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Michaela Coplen


I like to take a bite out of everything. The harpist at this feast

is predictably good

the market, as usual, captive. When we walked

through the murdered orchard that night, I wanted

the whole chorus wailing. We curled

into our thrown-down nest,

your mouth like a wind-bruised

pear. Or the evening

we spent in the soldiers’ hotel, your easiness your

purring. I’d give my gods for that again,

take from you something

similar. Tongues again: out, in. Our

tiny lightless battles . I don’t need

your oblation, just an answer

for my hunger. Forget dirt,

the dawn too. Forget shutting

the door. Forget the right pills shuttered

in their smartly snapping box.

Play on, lyre and lyricist!

Forget collecting tethers. Forget

the death requirement, fail

to draw up new pyre places— instead: this Grand Procession, peckish

hours in between The night

our faces threw dark rain. Yet still the astral turning. Still our throats

wide open. Ah. Wet petal wide.



The gruesome death I mind the least is being buried alive.

When the god of the underworld steals a girl, he takes her by the waist.

The month I bled, I bound my mid as if to hold it in.

Born too soon & out of breath & so in want of swaddle.

I want it now & constant. I want tourniquet-tight.

When I first fucked an older man, he made me stop performing.

He pressed one hand down on my chest, the other one inside

& crooned good girl into my warmth as one might soothe a foal.

Adam. I’m sorry it didn’t work & never made me love you.

Leaving is nothing like jet plane; it’s more a heavy chopper.

I maintain that there is too much sky. I can’t be unconvinced.

& Still I have that splinting urge, to hold the hurting thing.

Pain & any other feel is numbed by enough compression.

I imagine release as a greyhound derby — all the gates are flung


Michaela Coplen is currently completing an MPhil at the University of Oxford. She graduated with a BA from Vassar College, where she served as poetry editor for the Vassar Review. Her poems have been published online with The Atlantic and, as well as in the Bellevue Literary Review and Up the Staircase Quarterly, and forthcoming in Collateral. She won first prize in the 2019 Troubadour International Poetry Competition and the 2020 Jon Stallworthy Prize. She was also recently included in Copper Canyon Press’s eco-poetry anthology, Here: Poems for the Planet.

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