Karla Linn Merrifield

Mind Double


DNA is my totem pole, I shall not want.

It leadeth me to lie down amid terrapins at low tide:

It leadeth me beside coiled anacondas.

It restoreth my limbic brain:

It leadeth me on the tao of evolution for no one’s sake.


Yea, though I walk through the herpetological vestiges

of primal fear, I will fear no amphibian or reptile,

for thou, deoxyribonucleic acid, are within me.

The helices of thy spiral of immanence guide me.

Thou preparest a swampscape in the presence

of my kindred spirits; thou anointest my mind

with imagery; imagination runneth over.


Surely turtles and tortoises shall follow me all

the dreams of human life, and I will dwell

in the burrow of oroboros forever.


Six Mile Cypress Slough après Howard Hodgkin


This is a poem in black and white

like a black-and-white warbler

in the black-and-white of midday

sun spots and spotting shadows

of wax myrtle sweet bay red maple

bald cypress in green stillness


this is a poem turning the greens

of spring in the slough into strap-fern

green green of alligator flag green of water

hyacinth in algae-green water swamp-lettuce

green green of my envy for the green camouflage

of an orb-weaver’s web empty of spider and prey


this poem swerves into the red

eye of ibis red eye of black-crowned

night heron red in the voice of cardinals

red on the marginal scutes and carapace

of turtles heating up with the day

red my blood red my blood red blood


                        for Colleen North



Karla Linn Merrifield 

Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 600+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 12 books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel to Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye (based in Vancouver, BC), a member of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), the Florida State Poetry Society, and The Author’s Guild. She is currently at work on three manuscripts and seeking a home for The Comfort of Commas, a quirky chapbook that pays tribute to punctuation. Visit her woefully outdated, soon-to-be-resurrected blog, Vagabond Poet, at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.

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