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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

Petra Kuppers

On the Verge

Boulder woman unwinds an arm

from lichen linens, tendons bind

tissue of fiddleheads,

sautéed, a delicacy.


What do you take into your mouth?


Pond water parts for a cold foot

to step toward: she is on the other shore.


Fire in white stone, bone

marrow leaches cut lake.


Oil and water:

her head lifts in a century of No.


Her back cracks open.

Her foot stands on the blackened verge

between earth and river.


Her collarbone crackle fold

hollow’s fiery gap

grey crane nests

tremble, small wing bones shift

against water gun.


Will you salve this dry, rich land?


Boulder woman opens her arms.

The Cracks in the World

Lilac wind chimes silent indoors Aotearoan fern gloss



Wide window silhouette

Sailship ghost glass




Christmas cactus purple into green Resins my best friend’s

Dried mountain sage iron bowl

monster aloe scratch naked flesh




brown hot tub cover Hum and rumble


Wicker rocker Turkish stained-glass lantern


“how to create a healing garden”




Oval vagina-colored clay plate Five hooks for guest towels


Sprouting mason jar Oregano seedlings Unsure what to do now


birdcage hanging chair




Handmade espresso cup Glastonbury’s Starchild magic


Cthulhu figurines Cones open Suckers out



Detroit’s reclaimed wood frames Salamander




Nude woman reclined

Dream with Adrienne

(after Adrienne Rich’s Diving in the Wreck)


“In which our names do not appear:”

Channel turquoise robe of succulents

tree book deep beneath green mirrors

iTunes sound drones in the coral towers

hardened libraries of salt and stone.


Glass membranes color the soggy page

“in which our names do not appear”

millennial pink, royal blue, Wedgewood china

gun powder mixed with pearl vinegar.

Rarity loses edges here, Kindle seams.


Glitter eyelashes lift, stiff breeze

streams open into western winds,

“in which our names do not appear.”

Powder puffs sing for me, we fly,

we soar air stream, lapis lazuli pearls.


Flames over the edge. Volcano breath

liquid enters the city like dolphin

pumice roughs away edges, the sand

“in which our names do not appear”

public library stairs even out into glide.


Mermaid and I dream by blood kajal,

bleached corals scream page thin arms.

On the naked beach, noise master

opens the O: beak, gullet, heart

“in which our names do not appear.”


Petra Kuppers (she/her) is a disability culture activist, a writer, and a community performance artist, and the Anita Gonzalez Collegiate Professor in Performance Studies and Disability Culture at the University of Michigan. She uses ecosomatics, performance, and speculative writing to engage audiences toward more socially just and enjoyable futures. She has been engaged in community dance and disability culture production since the late 80s, and her third performance poetry collection, Gut Botany, was selected as one of the top ten poetry books of 2020 by the New York Public Library. Her most recent book is Eco Soma: Pain and Joy in Speculative Performance Encounters (UoMinnesota Press, February 2022, open access), which explores disability culture perspectives on moving in diverse worlds. She and her wife Stephanie Heit run Turtle Disco, a somatic writing and movement studio, on Anishinaabe Territory colonially known as Ypsilanti, Michigan.

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