about the author

Kelly Schirmann studied languages, personal thought patterns, and forms of apocalypse at UC Berkeley. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and continues to do very little else.

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hunter gatherer

kelly schirmann

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saturdays the men took
the gunboat upriver, felt along

the mud and stone for her
arms. whatever was left

ate shit in the shallower water
where the roots marauded

around in the dark, piranhas
or their equivalents eating

what slept there in the tangle.
they’d never seen anything like

it: her. they struggled through
the cocoa leaves, took potshots

at bananas. her musk paraded
in the twilight, wearing a mask

of pollen. the plants, in turn,
could fertilize themselves.

in the ship’s log they scrawled
around, smearing each other’s

hard-felt renditions. they shared
nothing, hardtack, beating sun

making fevers from the blear.
her voice carried its weight

across another thinness;
another voice became heavy.

prodding the silty bottoms
with a smooth stick in the pant

of that jungle, the sick heat,
they collapsed her last letters

in their packets, a meaty crease.
every body stayed buried.

night hung itself slowly. a mouth
that opened & then closed.

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