The heart has abdicated feeling.

I have enough to do, all this beating, all this pumping.

Builds a wall to harden the pericardium.

Feels the shearing less.

Knows it is ultimately useless and easily scaled,

the breakthrough scorching.


In the heart’s determined absence,

the digestive track takes up the slack, but can’t stomach it.

Bile, bubbling lava, ire, rise along the esophageal membranes.

What does make it down is hardly digestible,

only present due to the sheer volume of forced feeding.

The small intestine is especially overworked,

separating the pure from the unpure, the true from the untrue,

the useful from the corrupted, too big a job

So nearly all passes on to the large intestine,

which just wants more water.


The lungs, the lungs are crying,

damp or charred,

ash floating, hacking up bits of themselves,

too many fires burning, too many on the edge of the last exhale.

Seeking solace on hard granite,

weep into the mother’s embrace

even as she suffers.


The nervous system is trigger-happy.

The hand tremors unrelenting.

Good time not to have a gun.


The interstitial swamps,

lowdown fluids between/among


are in the best shape, not frozen, not making off

with the last energy in the treasury.

Steady, slow, tidal,

still taking cues from the moon

but in need of water.


The feet run.

The hands want to strangle.

The spine contorts under jeopardy.

The endocrine system would just like

the right drugs to fuck its brains out.


The mouth and vocal chords,

more inarticulate than not,

garble, gurgle, sputter, spewing



The central canal, the core,

aligning with the earth’s magma

roaring, roiling

unconcerned with blue, waits

for vents, fissures, some pore, some open vein

to come erupting out

with precision and deadly aim.


But the cells

in their unwavering, egalitarian democracy,

in their trillions, all still work together,

each with its small input, need, job,


in this way to keep the whole alive.


The mind, once tethered by the heart, is disembodied,

wracked in this climate of isolation.

shouting for water.


Karin Spitfire

Karin Spitfire is the author of Standing with Trees and a chapbook “Wild Caught.” Her poem “Liquidation” won the national first place in the 2019 Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, sponsored by WOMR, Provincetown. Her poems have appeared in 3 Nations Anthology, You Say. Say, on-line journals, Canary: A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis, The Catch: Writings from Downeast, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, and print journals, Off the Coast, The Aurorean, Rootdrinker, Currents, the Journal of Body Mind Centering. “What is to be Offered published in The Kerf, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She was the Poet Laureate of Belfast, Me in 2007 & 2008.

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