the poetry that matters

Megan Boatright

Megan Boatright is from Northwest Florida, currently a PhD student in comparative literature at the University of Chicago. She was awarded honorable mention for the Academy of American Poets prize at Emory University. Her academic work is mostly in critical animal studies, with an emphasis on taxidermy.

Remembering the Winter Squid

I.  Descending lightly, a squid
Creon passes between stages.  Deftly. 
Intermediary setting: 
              Sandbags, 1:15 [it is not midnight], an overnight bus out of Barcelona [no one has money]
              [that includes you] [you are the only one speaking your language]. A Gong.
He is grateful for the absence of aquariums and their light.  Child of the Roma, scintillating eye hollows but otherwise disappointingly appropriate, has taken his seat.  Father of the Roma sleeps barefoot in the aisle and rolls against the tragic antagonist from time to time.  Earth Mother is not sharing her Fritos.  Back of the aisle.  A Zulu priest on a cell phone.  Missing row marks the hidden toilet and a weeping tiredness overcomes our hero.  Child of the Roma to Creon (sleeping):  at home, there are mountains and a rabbit hutch. I gather the morning squid.  Yes, sir, yes, you can pluck them from the ground, they are so thick and so thickly lying.  No, Creon, we do not want to eat them; we cannot help it.

II.  (Chorus) Squid at my window, window squid
foot to mouth                                   symbol, sinkers-in                           cuddlybones
          At 24 feet, this female squid is not           filed under: market squid             chitin, the mantle, the
          squiddiequicklyafterharvest      washed up in Tasmania                 firefly squid. It is about firefly
squid at noon, rising like cheap Westerns             cuttlebones. we are not cuttle
          we are not. we are not. we are not.  we are not

III.  Woman with fashionably pink squid

“Now is the mammal                                              I could nurse for hours
of my discontent!” The walrus                                 on the baby pink of your shoulder.  I’m
sinks over his tusks. Caught.                                   a Humboldt: hold me.
“Do you really hope                                               Do you really think
to own him?” She means business.                           you can still go home, after this?
She means to gnaw                                               It could not have been otherwise. I
the rug out from under us. Deftly.                            could not have been otherwise. Child,
“Child, do not be reckless in                                    stick to the ice floes.  Do not expect
your fishing.  Do you expect your breath                   your breath; allow it.
to steady itself?” She sweats into                            I am a squid.  My light, your light.  My breast,
the mouth of the podium; we can no longer               my head.  My head, the continuation
deny the smell: she has become too much                 of your hand into bounded space.
a part of it.  She reaches past the beak                    My eye, your misplaced trust.
to get her notebook/to get her mace.                       Out of the night I rise from a twisting of ash
Her hand shredded. Squid over shoulder.                   and I eat men
“Oh, that? Yes, that’s new.”                                   like nobody’s business.

90’s love song with similes (save me some whale)

You’re the cigarette ash in my fucking coffee.  Your teeth
are so hard, girl.  I just had my appendix removed
and the scar is like, so you.  Like your teeth.

You’re the inspired misuse
of cough syrup, swing sets, red pop—you’re like,
my fish eye lens.  Fish on pavement.  Syrup.

The white whale don’t know what to mean, all alone.  It’s a great big world and the ocean’s gettin’ smaller.  Baby Beluga’s dead, baby; what’s a whale in your world of trains?

You’re an angel in the popular sense.  We’re like
spinning on a twisted swing and taking pictures of the vomit.
One day, I’ll lick every bone in your body.  ‘Cause baby,

the white whale don’t know what it means to be alone.  It’s your world and the ocean, where’s the ocean?  Baby Beluga’s dead, baby; what’s a whale in your world of trains?


Monsoon rooster

1)  Wet
under the neck
feathers                         In the Barrineaux family cemetery on the edge of Atmore, there are chickens.  In the Barrineaux family cemetery on the edge of Atmore, there are Barrineaux.  There are dirty things

wet, you hold me

In the Barrineaux family cemetery, we fill our mouths with dirty things and shame for them.  You twist dead things into my hair, hollow frog’s bones, crab grass splitting off

a tongue moves wildly
in a hollow place
with nothing to hold it
And I crow and I
crow and I crow

2)  An’t blood
enough to hurt, we suck
our teeth, spit, feel slighted.

There is nowhere else to be.  There
is no food under, or within, this rock.


There is moss, and we are full of it
without even beginning to eat.
The peat slabs smolder in your
gut, burn cold, and roosters curse you,
both of us,
and we swallow their stones.

Love thou tha man, love
thou tha man, thou mun’
thou love tha man.


Shake em dugs

am turn.  Queen of some dry
place and landing under you.  Twisting
July ants into your baby hair, charms
for your chicken hair.

She sings it, Black Sabbath,
because that’s all she knows, and then
the superlube song, and its small lungs
fall limp.
God, I love to superlube it
ain’t no better way to do it
jerking rings from her knuckles to hold
in its surprised tongue.

And if that cracked, nicotine woman can try so damn hard
to love you, then here,
take the dampest lace in my dresser,
smooth it over your face,
let every wet thing of mine have meaning here.


Platypus Rex

I)  Movement

The Muse rose (quite heavily) from her honeyed couch—remarking, as always, the inconvenience but we do what we can to get by—as a presumptuous zephyr helped shake down her curls.  She patched the singing leaks in her ceiling with living tar.

II)  Diminuendo

Boots in his mouth, the poet imagines the lines that must be, could be, hiding in the slick of his father’s ashes.  His father is a car salesman.  Truth and beauty at low, low prices.  The poet notes a partial removal of sixty-odd Trojan horses; they lope along, pack-animals now.  The one that ate his opus trots into the Microsoft-blue noon, his missing haunch sweating.

III)  The edible drama

Then again, we aren’t so well equipped.

IV)  15

Minutes is all I’ll ever get!  With no room to strut and fret my hour, no hope of reruns.  Cans of laughter, glued together like a carnival gag.  We move through empty rooms on webbed haunches.

No room to pluck my eyes out.  My Latin mother.

V)  Movements

I am spent; the difference between “used book” and “used condom.”

My shelves lined, my mouth filled with substrata—the Muse left Paris, let her apartment, complaining of the heat.  Polar bears swim neck-high, composing swift round fugues in her memory with their invisible feet.  Ice caps bring us closer, pull us by the neck into deep water.

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