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Detail of Hilma af Klint work, currently at the Guggenheim Museum, New York (photo by Elisa Wouk Almino/Hyperallergic)


live footage of the mimic octopus
gently will i grab its neck
and twist
the footage

nobody suspects a thing

i said i was not to swim
out that far, the sea being full
of nope
and sightings

surely with the proper slope would i bear up
but my slope is very, is sleek, improper
and i’m so given to release—

can one discharge this symptom
can one discharge it in
a crowd
/let me clean my dirty teeth
the old cat twitches in his sleep

the drab garb of my utmost
shock technician
rattles dryly in the dark

he participates in meanings of increasing complexity
i don’t tell him how to, i just increase it
we have a rotating thing
called The President
and a rule
do you want me to say enough?
we pass it back and forth

at the end, the game will ask me for
/an shelter/
an jet
which even such plastic, freaks

in the door glass

in the loud speech of accidents
take me swiftly
to the pierced chute
encounter is

does that sound bad
this dog has the tiniest paws, and pink

at the gym a confusion of our image in the door

i wanted to meet her eyes as she entered but did not
i wanted to put my eyes in the shape of hers
and did

a prism closes its ends
by repeating a mantra in the space
once a crest and once a crest
/however far the wave will stretch

/when you would study death
paint flowers

*   *   *

Kirsten Ihns is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is currently a PhD student and Neubauer Presidential Fellow at the University of Chicago, where she studies texts that seem to want to be images, reads poetry for Chicago Review, and co-curates the emerging artist/poet series Plexiglas. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bennington Review, Black Warrior Review, The Iowa Review, Yalobusha Review, inter|rupture, DREGINALD, West Branch Wired, and elsewhere. She is from Atlanta, GA.

Readers are encouraged to submit 3–5 poems as a PDF to Wendy Xu for consideration at

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Wendy Xu

Wendy Xu is the author of the poetry collections Phrasis (Fence, 2017), winner of the 2016 Ottoline Prize, and You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013). The recipient...