Animals: Two Poems by Kristin Kehl

Here is the Cosmos

            I crave
days with dandruff—heavenly 
dermatitis flakes, pagans caked 
underneath my nails proclaiming
                        this is your dimension today.

            Days less 
persecuting than sheep perching 
on my elbow & less vivacious 
than hounds sleeping in my shoes. 
                        Here is today: no harps, no 

            horns. Only 
hands to heads. After picking 
at follicles in my scalp, skin falls 
away. No— slithers away. 
                        Here is the snake’s egg 

            in dirt:
abandoned. Except the snake peeled its 
skin, fouled & fed to the rat. Except 
the rat lives & wears the skin as a flight suit. 
                        Molting, too, I think. What is newness 

            but nothing? 
For a while, at least. In the shower, 
today is tomorrow. I squeeze 
the bottle, soap spirals in my hands 
                        & I scrub & scrub & scrub.

The Fucking Bees are Dying

I was a carpenter bee bounty hunter once. I was handed a battered 
            tennis racket with black tape warping up into my fists 
& I swung. Thankfully, I mostly missed. Some people are still swinging, still 
seeing the bees as vermin, but let’s face it: first 
            impressions aren’t pretty. Flight doesn’t put humans 
                        at ease. We are grounded, stuck, so we cut down trees. We build homes
out of wood to lift us up, out of the sinking Earth, & into the sky but 
            here come the fucking bees. They bobble in the air, a dozen drones
                        dancing around a queen. Mating, mounting & mangling, they boast
                        about their flight. They burrow into our wood like it’s theirs &
                        bumble
about after their feast. I thought they were mocking me. I didn’t listen
to their lullaby, didn’t see their vibrations shimmering in the springtime 
            breeze. Some people divide their lives into before & after, but I divide my life
into when I was a hunter & now. Now, I am one of the bees who I would have killed 
                        for twenty-five cents per body because I can’t help but flit 
            for a queen. Survival is an instinct with three chances to learn
            to work or to die & I know we are still animals 
but even St. Augustine said all misery dies with man, not 
with fucking bees. Look, I know how to string a racket so that it whistles 
            while it swings but listen, please, this is the lullaby: buzzing, not 
                        the beating in the bathhouse of a woodpecker’s red beak but picketed
                        white porch rails breaking while bees drill & then pollinate. 
This is misery: quarters, plunking in the bottom of a glass water jug 
                                                                        & still, we don’t survive. 

About Kristin Kehl

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Kristin Kehl 宁福思 (she/her) is an emerging poet who says some delightfully unpoetic things. She has work published or forthcoming in Kudzu Review, Button Eye Review and Cat Family Records. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Florida State University.