Six Poems


By Zoe Kurland

Image: “Sea Salt,” by Charlotte Pierce, 2015. 

Exponential decay

That feeling of shame when you’re too fancy for the occasion
that “I am overdressed for this party, So much so that I can feel
the slick complications of my waist” feeling.
and the ways in which I’ve tapered
are crushing the cave where
possible heartbeat
sonically strums.

why is Y a hook between legs why is X arms and legs

Clothes puddle at the foot of your bed.
an infinite stain shrinks, an anemone head
into dermal layers then fluid pools then
poof and cackle to melt
soft and wrinkled as
the wicked witch, I am

one more smudge
on your Ikea

Most things in me have a half life.

It began as a surmise on memory
but now it’s whatever goes inside.


yours or mine


Due to galactic fishing line,
a light-hook buried between blades,
her back lurched while
knuckles locked,
crunched over piano keys
as they pulled her from earth.

Slight convexity breeds
bodily complexity, smooth
as roundabout sound,
like storybook slope,
the tale behind the tale of
green quietly pushing back
                                 into primary sky
as something small rolls and rots and does not

slip head dip low, back lingers,
body goes but for fingers,
clutching the toothy instrument
(which always grinned,
                full-set at her touch)

The saucer hatch mouth cruds crusty.

With any luck, they’ll snag her for far,
sky-krill sipping, moon-man monkfish



In California, mouths dry quickly.
They are dumb and big and often open 
to air, they hang ajar. My brother and I 
sit outside, sear our skin on the metal furniture
cattle brand of floral tooling, tulips,
heat-pocked by the pear, etched on the chair. 

It’s summertime, so it smells like bromide. 
Outside, we chat about floaters. His are different
than mine. Our faces crack, unlace,
articulate pulsing light-shape.

With our twin tongues, we reject
language, stutter like sprinklers. The grass
will always green
on other’s side. 

We fall silent, tip up towards the sky.
Eyes fall as the mouths do. Irises
burn as pupils bloom in tandem. 


Irregular Tragedy

She pushes a rock up the hill,
gravity’s cruel cool
smacks it
back down.

The smell of crushed grass when
the rock rolls, gathering green stain,
sun glancing off horned shoulders
catching pools
of warm sweat salt.


She pushes a car up a hill,
gravity’s cruel cool,
smacks it
back down.

The crack of crushed pebble and
slick smooth stick of
pearled paint,
foot catching feeble in the pothole
fear drools warm in private places.


Chorus: “Oh to have been neutral on the freeway!”
It rains in Athens on ruins. Stones shine.

I jerk the car back into reverse, crunchy like the summer
I crushed mouse bones. The rat world’s mean goddess

fingering pieces of a rodent leg, of mortar memory,
beige blood. The pestle winces and her hand shoots forward.

This time a crunch like chewing, Athens on snack break,
betweens when chorus tip masks up to gorge.

Amongst her two-faced brethren, young mask flung about
I gulped hard and drifted within heaviness that sat still in me

where the engine quit.


Chorus: “we think —unless our age is cheating us— /that what you say is sensible and right”

Shut up,
hop on an urn.


When he spread his longs legs wide,

palm on both knee, cracking his bones

in my passenger seat.

A whine slipping against one another,

a gum white pulse in the joints,


as do two sweaty sternums.


This floating bone-tale! An anachronism in the mythic Grecian sea. Must be all the salt!

Look closer and taste as much as he lets you.

Again and again I hear the bones, the ones within shoulders like wings, drawn up in the Icarus way, eyes and mouth frozen wide as the throats of his creamy cotton osteo punch at gem-like glub.

Now put a seashell to your ear and I’ll tell you how I risked his bones which once tried to impress…


It rains on the ruins but the chorus is attentive.


Sneak Attack


Planning her freudian slips in advance,
she set out on foot.

armed with charming tales
(small things: about the sea,
lazy eyes, bruising violet, easy,
tins of tea, migration courses)
She believed if used correctly,
they were just as Trojan horses.
She aimed to be a sneak attack;

her birthday was 9/11


Walking up a hill for Fiona
the things have hardened wrong.
The resolve of ankles, the reason behind wrists,
trysts, veined long and dense,
A possessed palm, wise with
width, splitting out

reaches for tread,
clutches pearls instead.

Strange day at the luncheon,
her legs forgo their function.


The mother liked to collect empty ice cream cartons and use them to store leftovers. She liked to do this so she could say “would you like some ice cream?” only to lift the lid and reveal a cold piece of meat. She liked this joke very much and did it very often. They all stopped saying yes to the offer, knowing the tiresome end, but the mother chuckled to herself now and again.


Porcelain: A Field Guide

You will never look as bruised
as in the blur,
the bathroom mirror.

                                       Again, correctly and with feeling, please.

You will never look as bruised as
in the third 
floor bathroom mirror.

                                        Thats nice.

Do it twice and everything
tastes like a second coming.

Do it bent at the waist, down,
brace yourself to waste yourself

lose yourself-

no, ooze yourself-
along a tile floor.

Wait. supplicate.

                                       (pssst, look down!)

you’ll be the kid formerly known as “bread,”
now call her “denatured mush.”

Look in the mirror.
Softer purple pouches,
punch burst with vessels,
clasping their hands to break
towards the eyes, they’re plucking out
lashes by the pinching fistful
wasting good blood and lank hair and

                                       Again, again, again!

I bend and

the whole thing smells
like the ham sandwich in your pocket:

flapping flanks,
sweaty on billows
of bread.




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