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Samantha Duncan

from The Birth Creatures (1)

at thirty-seven weeks
I wake in the night

a cypress tree has appeared in the corner
roots displacing the wood floor
stretching under the empty crib

you perch on its leafy flat-top head
not new at all
the life inside me
before me

I look at                     myself

and no wind just
a faint
copper smelling air
and you a tank
sucking fat rolls on your arms
candied yams
for an early Thanksgiving

you hold your name
like a favorite toy
where was I
waking in the night
where was I

waking in the dirt
I study that of me
my exhaling insides
grow a hunger for
more of me it         you                     that

from The Birth Creatures (2)

days after
another exit to an entrance

a homecoming from the arena
so I must be                 a gladiator

absolved of my other I drag
negotiated insides through dirt
enter                 the house
and sense an accumulation

find a rhinoceros sitting
like a thick gray bench
in the kitchenette corner
where the bouncer was to go

bones in the bathroom
smelling of a last meal
I put them in the fridge

filling noiseless pockets like a flood
the ink of me

we'll make room
says a non-compliant body
as for time
we'll make compliant
thieves of ourselves

from The Birth Creatures (3)

my first week as a superhero
I walk through a wall
only my torso makes it through
a lone lantern highlighting sticky dust
mixed with the blood
trailing my cape

in the yard
I poke a straw at the sun
for a jump start
but it's night
and the sun is actually
some other star

and I've instead grabbed the attention
of the moon
who sideways glances come hithers
at me
a thirst for answers
powered by tides

under cape of dirt and blood
my muted function

from The Birth Creatures (4)

the black clouds disappear
like puffs of cotton candy
this isn't punk rock anymore
you say             this isn't

midnight boots punctuation jewelry
pizza philosophies fast life slow death

to which the moon rocks
on my chest
will attest

the rhino is a watcher
hungry-eyed fly-keeper

the eye-roller the judge when I
readjust my shirt
over my body and instead

collect a slow discharge
of sap from the tree

fill your mouth
my sticky finger
large as your eyes

a feed without feeding
on track for now
you grow faster
than my guilt

from The Birth Creatures (5)

a peat bog
where the kitchen table was
for biodiversity
a promise from the rhino
to paint an accent wall later

we're some version of happy
to let the tree frogs in

[though some already
started a poetry group
in the upstairs bath]

and watch the floaters
in our eyes blink like timers
alert alert
feed someone

I open my mouth to tell a story
and cement comes out
laying a path to the back door
with the broken lock
in my midsection
a pulse a fire
turning on itself

from The Birth Creatures (6)

the moon is in
the kitchen       is in my mouth
wanting under the gums
until I quit myself

at night we shed
the scraps left
from cutting ourselves
out of bark and clay

you remain so                 hungry

the tree is still wet
with sap I am
dry but more eager

quicker to breathe
the moss-cake
filling the walls

only against
the grey womb
of night
we are doing
we are real

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