MK Chavez: Three Poems

Swamp Thing II


To denote as dirty and to cognate is to muddle meaning.

Once upon a time, mud was sweet heroin.
Sweet swamp survival. What does it mean to drag
someone through the mud.

Swamp, where sometimes slavery sunk to silt.
Muddled has been used to describe my identity.

There are other lesser-known stories
such as Dr. Samuel Mudd
who treated Abraham Lincoln’s murderer,
John Wilkes Booth. What he did was considered
a traitorous act, and eventually, he was convicted.

Swamp Creatures are soft matter historical sludge.

Allegations regarded as damaging, typically
concerned with corruption.

Swampland is rich with worms, frogs, snails
and crayfish.

To mud wallow among cypress and alligators,
adapt to brackish and salty waters. To be
a part of the trembling earth.




Incantation for Future Beings


It wasn’t the election, the pandemic, or racial violence. We had reached an end. We were consuming

ourselves whole and then cast from the destroyed building to search for the key.

We were semi-divine, a type of hybridity, some might say a monstrosity. We were full

of impulse when we entered the chrysalis.


Key: The terrible thing had already happened

Key: Every wound had a name

Key: We looked into the abyss and we were the darkness


It wasn’t the death, one after the other, one after the other, or the truth of it, or the lie of it.

We were never alone in the pure and oval place. Some fought the disintegration, some slept.


Key: We were clearwing and golden

Key: At one time we believed the venom was the medicine

Key: We are the familiar we have been fearing


It wasn’t red skies, floods, earthquakes, or the physical impossibility of a breaching shark.

The mystery was in how milky eyed we had become. How we lost sight of the process,

unable to see that everything comes to an end and a beginning.


Key: Our umbilici coiled together into eternity

Key: The future is our past, our past our future and our future is now.

Key:  In our finest moment we are ouroboros.


It wasn’t Essayan playing the piano in a destroyed building, the concert of anarchy,

or the shortages of masks, gloves, and toilet paper. What we found was that we were still ourselves.

Beyond wisdom and evil. Which is to say, we are tutelary beings, a lotus blooming

on top of our heads


Key: The opening of the self is eternal

Key: The ego slain in the process of reincarnation and our wings wet

Key: We are forever instar and golden.


It was the uprising. It was the end and it was then beginning.


We are the vision serpent of our times. We are furious and infernal

spirits of winding roots and nerves. Look, our hands are red with rebirth.


We traveled the gateway and waited, found that all we have is time.

We have been and are becoming the universe.




I Am Here To Query Indices Of What Follows

It could look like someone you know, or it could be a stranger—Jack, It Follows


Your body followed my body first.

I don’t know the stories you tell yourself.

I only know that we didn’t arrive here as ghosts.


Memories are now natural histories.


The day we met

we looked at each other in the eye

longer than the average 3.2 seconds.


How long does it take to forget a face?

Studies in facial vocabulary say never.


Now we communicate as supernatural entities.


A lure was once an arrangement of feathers

meant to resemble a bird.

There was a time you called me a chameleon.


You had a turtle you named Turtle.

In its old age, Turtle began biting the toes of women

who you brought to the apartment.


A lure was once a collective term for a group

of women. Later you gave Turtle away.


The we of us is dream logic.


The nightmare made it impossible to solve the nightmare.


Sticky with emotional content.


It remains important to note that at some point, we lost control

of the interrogations


I’m haunted by frame in which I stare at myself

while talking into the ether.


Sometimes when I see you, I say, oh, hi

as if I didn’t just click on a link.


We watched a horror movie together in our separate homes.


It was an It film.

You were disappointed. You said, It never arrived.


And yet, there was an end.

Everyone undid themselves and each other.



have grown to monstrous proportions.




MK Chavez is a writer, editor, and educator who splits her time between Portland, Oregon (the occupied territory of the Cowlitz, Clackamas, and Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde) and Oakland, California (occupied territory of the Ohlone people). Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including the Academy of Poets Poem-A-Day series. She is the author of Mothermorphosis, Dear Animal, (Nomadic Press), and several chapbooks including,  A Brief History of the Selfie (Alley Cat Books). Chavez curates the reading series Lyrics & Dirges and is co-director of the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and is guest curator of the reading series at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. She is an editor at Nomadic Press and poetry editor at Rivet Literary Journal. She has been a visiting instructor at Stanford University, San Francisco State University, and Mills College. She is a recipient of the Alameda County Arts Leadership Award, the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award, and fellowships at Hedgebrook, Caldera, CantoMundo, and VONA. 






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