Please help the Black Earth Institute continue to make art and grow community so needed for our time. Donate now »

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

Sarah Bitter

Leto in Exurbia

In one of the winters without snow,

Leto gets knocked up. For a while, no one knows.


She hides her amber eyes under a black hoody

and hangs out with the goth kids,


purple fingernails reaching

from oversized sleeves.


Pretty mothers

yank their little boys back


from Leto’s bright sulkiness,

sparkling nose ring and ebony eyeliner.


Weeknights, Leto flashes her pungent adolescent

scent of potato chips, sweat and nicotine


as she romps through town

with the vixens


their music so loud, the ladies

at the market grimace while the girls laugh.


By spring, Leto is too wolfen

to hide under a sheepskin.


It was my uncle, my father, my god,

Leto howls,


as her mother chases her with a rolling pin

foam flicking around the word slut.


Leto gallops out and hides her whole swollen body

behind a single blade of grass.


The swans fly north, rising from mud

in assaults of grace.


For months, men in town jog into the river,

drawn by a green scent they can’t quite name,


while the meth dealer behind 7-11

rattles on and on about the woman


and the wolf cubs loping

across fields of sharpened light.

Reading Gertrude Stein and Rae Armantrout at an Airbnb in a Field that Smells like Home

rent dappled

buried past

on like
borrowed hat

cowboy hat
on my cow head

I put it on

and something else


caught (in)
fake rain

put on
real hat


Sarah Bitter is a writer from Seattle, Washington. Her poetry has been published by Denver Quarterly’s FIVES, The Seventh Wave, and other publications, and was longlisted in the 2022 National Poetry Competition. Her work has accompanied paintings at The Page and Goldfinch Galleries and her interviews and reviews have been published in Poetry Northwest and EcoTheo Review. Sarah has an MFA from the University of Washington.

©2024 Black Earth Institute. All rights reserved.  |  ISSN# 2327-784X  |  Site Admin