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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

Cindy Veach

The Grief of Sea Stars

Because I feel with my arms, see with my feet,

grow back the damaged parts of me

I am both metaphor

and symbol:

Mary Star of the Sea, Venus, Isis,

an oceanic constellation.

Look closely at my five arms. Do you see

how they scour the seascape for prey? How each one is sensor and actuator?

My hunger an invasive wrecking ball, annihilator

of coral reefs, exterminator of the smooth handfish.

You think regeneration can bring back

  all I have destroyed.

I am without blood, brains. Not goddess. Not astral body.

My ten thousand undulating tube feet feel for you.

Your kitschy sea star décor

makes me spit out my stomach.

The Grief of the Fox

I’ve been called—


vixen man-eater

shape shifter (even the adorable Vulpix

becomes something with nine-tails).

I’ve been mis-gendered

called she/her

until I ransack the chicken coop slay

too many to carry  to cache

and then  I’m a he/him a dog-fox.

How do I grieve? By leaving the rabbits alone.

By killing to kill.

If I cross your path  it’s considered: good luck  bad luck

a sign from the dead  a threat a wake-up call

a divine message

as if

my coats of silver and fire my delicate face

the perfect way my slender body slips beneath the wire

and into the coop

could portend your fate.

The Grief of White-tailed Deer

I predate the Ice Age was once

messenger to the gods

a symbol of longevity   now

pest, tick host, yard eater, victim

of suburban sprawl.

Grazing on azaleas, rhododendron

beside your condo complex

I  startle you  offer

no tail flick, no white flag

my ancient facial glands (one beside each doe eye)

pumping out  pheromones

to mark, claim space


Cindy Veach’s most recent book Her Kind (CavanKerry Press) was named a finalist for the 2022 Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal. She is also the author of Gloved Against Blood (CavanKerry Press), a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and a Massachusetts Center for the Book ‘Must Read,’ and the chapbook, Innocents (Nixes Mate). Her poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, AGNI, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, The Journal, and Salamander among others. She is the recipient of the Philip Booth Poetry Prize and the Samuel Allen Washington Prize. Cindy is poetry co-editor of MER.

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