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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Section 2: The Retina Cascading

Petra Kuppers

Petra Kuppers
Moon Botany
I. Found on Mushrooming Walk near the Playa
Old warm sea. Old times. Oh you are so delicate. Wow, foot print
sucker, very flowery chemical vein not quite in marble.
You cling on, don’t you, beneath the dust of meteorite bowl,
hesitant tentacle preserved and unveiled, immodest,
to the newbies, twinkle mushroom feeds on air and last night’s rain,
pinhead knows nothing of exoskeletal growing pain, rub of dust
on skin chaffed by sunburn and the wind’s whip. Stem too delicate to
be picked, a tight little cap peeks for a day at the first hungry bird
without a mushrooming book, extravagant spoors ride high
out over the mountain. So, you will live.
Hitch up on boot, dust the sock, lodge yourself,
soar stuck on the windy desert rim, flat stony face.
II. Found in the Garden
Rhubarb: foreign git from the Volga shores, newcomer,
lushly spreads from the center to lounge and shadow
the soil beneath. No one can understand you. Greenery
will make you vomit. A strawberry cozies up to you,
demure red mantle pricked and juices bleeding to tone
your harsher strings. Now they allow you into pie-shaped land,
tongues smack, entry for your rococo. Then the vole
runs rampant. You continue, crispy mantle unfolds
into the smallest white flowers, do not simmer down,
peek out, arch your back, find delicious roots deep
down to common water source, run elegant, fibers open,
draw, draw, a geyser in the garden, all front, all out.
III. Found in the Walk up to the Bench
I might be a horsetail fern, taciturn, very old, indeed,
a bit saggy around the brown bits, the junctures of the segments
that mark my years here in the freezing cold,
in the brutal sun. You call me sparse and elegant,
against the riotous color of the flower carpet all around.
I try to stay alive. You plucked me. Puff ball: do you
have no decorum? Wait to swell, stay around a bit,
let the fibers grow a tad, instead of toddling drunkenly,
waiting to go to seed and spill your guts,
ripe pickings for the thirsty birds or any hand that longs
to squeeze, till innards drip, and watch the world split,
explode, decay, because you can.
Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a community performance artist, and a Professor of English at the University of Michigan, teaching in performance studies. She also teaches on the low-residency MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College. Beyond her academic credits and a book of poetry (Cripple Poetics: A Love Story, Homofactus Press, 2008, a collaboration with Neil Marcus and Lisa Steichmann), she has published poems and short stories in British and US journals like PANK, Adrienne, Visionary Tongue, Wordgathering, Poets for Living Waters, Disability Studies Quarterly, Beauty is a Verb: New Poetics of Disability, textsound, Streetnotes, Epistemologies, Accessing the Future, Quietus, Beyond the Boundaries, Cambrensis and beyond. In 2015/6, she is developing a new show, Asylum, with her partner, poet Stephanie Heit.


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