small textlarge text

Emily Stoddard

Revisionist History

Download MP3

for when the
branch extends
too far

to inoculate
the version
you believe

to inventory species
to your liking

Disregard those
with an overstory
that looms—

Sequoia sempervirens
Juglans nigra
Salix babylonica

to burn it all
before the forest
thickens with

a potent


I am
ash borer.
Penetrating 100 years
in a single summer

I am
Lightning strikes,
I burn
from the inside

I am
black walnut.
Cut my leaves,
I grow
a new face

You forget

History is water,
easily rerouted

Memory is a willow,
slice it clean
and still
the roots


Download MP3

For M.

Bullet of energy,
you can't be destroyed.
You try anyway.

Where does the black hole go to rest?

Body too small for its own intention,
so much light entrusted to a young bulb.
You scare yourself when you smile.

If the lighthouse looked in a mirror, would it take itself as a warning?

Your climate is all seasons.
This morning is sun.
Storms by dinner.

Does the tornado tire of being announced by sirens?

They have yet to find a name for you.
You have yet to find a new body.

Where does the shadow go to find itself?

Preservation Principles

Download MP3

I once laid out my collarbone as a tripwire,
convinced that exposure might be a kind of compromise.


I ate my own voice box for fear
that it would reveal too much –

Mute then, but the mind of the heart still assembled
a violent vocabulary.

Memory is never so easily swallowed.


I ate your pain like a rock unpolished –

Cracked open my wrists so you could see I am real,
human like you. But your hands are soft.

You don't take to calluses.

And your teeth –
Untrained for rock.


Now I drag my tongue like a rotting fish through salt.

Where were you while I was dismantling myself?

Here is my body, open and uncured.

You were never going to stitch me back together.

Descent into Restlessness

Download MP3

I swallowed the book of the ocean.

The starfish stories regenerating their limbs,
the mermaids in their fused-leg tails.

The seafloor crawls with evolution,
and I always want the next thing—

that monster in the black-deep.

The shock of its fluorescent tongue,
telling such awful truths. Wild from life
in the unknowable depth,

rambling about bottomless pursuit.

The First Law of Motion

Download MP3

My mind is a mud wheel, and it is always making vessels.
Gravity presses like a temptation. Only the walls exist to hold me in.
My train station mind, blowing steam. My whistlestop confession.
I punch your ticket. Where are we going? I cannot answer.
The question is what propels. If I answer, we stop. And going nowhere –

the foul of stagnation – that is the fear that keeps this life afloat.
My steamship mind. Like oars into black water.
Bring me the octopus of my restlessness.

Let me feel the suction of another good idea.
Have you seen the bottom of the ocean?
Don't answer that.

Don't answer anything with corners.
My matchbox mind. Four corners and the hollow middle,
holding all this kindling –
if only the right conditions existed.

Knowing is a Wildfire

Download MP3

as though born between
branches of birch and white pine,
there is always the hollow fire,
the warm concave
of knowing

do not arrive in sleep
do not mistake the dream
it is always a waking up

recognized like a match
just put out,

the smell of remnant smoke,
nose alerting mind—
something here has been lit up

and in the fire,
i become fern curling into itself

i become redwood steepling the tree line,
growing from the center of a long history

i am my girl-self,
eye-to-eye with horned owl,


➥ Bio