about the author

John Liles is a vertebrate, poet, science writer, and living heterotroph. He is an MFA candidate in the Brown University MFA program. His work has been published, or is forthcoming, in Arcadia, inter/rupture, Gulf Stream, and at Omniverse.us. His poetry has also been chosen for the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Award. Send thoughts of small animals to john_liles@brown.edu.

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Myogenesis and the rest unsettled

John Liles

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Cushions become cuspid
valves. What comforts later
allows. Endothelial cell-lineage,

the heart is its own


Some muscles aren’t absolute. You reach into
a reflex and allow

Calories uncounted,
turns out progress
is stalling

what you’ve swallowed.

Chase after your
reflection and feel


What once was is still
reachable, an outline
you’ve soured over.

Indelible and spilled, you
abrade the paper,
peel another top-pulp.

But it’s still stained.
Your next start
stung deeper.


in lower somite-stages
establishes skeletal muscle
starts and skin rises.

Precursors with end-points
already determined—clock
and notch toward appropriate

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