Given These Operations Are Ongoing

If a small femur fell from the sky

and landed on a magnolia leaf

right here, where you can see it

as you descend the steps this morning,

as you leave for your walk, you might

think it was the first drop

of bones the way you sometimes

feel the first drop of rain

and then wait for the next

which usually comes in twos

and threes like children straying

down the sidewalk after the school bus

drops them at the corner,

and then the downpour,

and you are back again

in that terrible gymnasium

where adolescents are screaming

and you have been assigned

crowd control. Who knows

which one will lose his balance

and tumble from the bleachers

or god forbid, though you have

given up belief in protective gods,

the whole section will collapse

and the bodies thunder down,

layers and layers of ribs and teeth,

mammoths, saber-toothed tigers,

a passenger pigeon, sea cow,

one heavy-footed auk–

but this is such a small bone,

the sort you used to pick from

owl pellets in eighth grade, and only one,

and now touching it, you can’t

remember if it is the femur

of a mouse or a mole or a sparrow,

they are all different

and the chart has blurred

in your mind, you aren’t even

sure it is a femur, maybe it is

a small shoulder blade, yes,

let’s say it is the shoulder blade

of a black-eyed junco

and there on the leaf beside

it now, the skull of the smallest shrew.



Landscrape with Hillside Partially Effaced

Strip Mining, Kentucky


Foremost, the green, as we say, is devastated,

swaying back and forth in her sun-dipped gown

as if she is losing everything from the top down. As if.

Lop off her arms, sliver her leg, slice her up

like a hotdog divvied for a kid, the perfect round

to choke on, more children die from wieners

than carrots or peanuts, not many frankfurters now

from traditional casing, the guts of sheep.

He died intestine, said the child, sucking on her milkshake,

what does that mean? This, said her father,

the coal was scraped from his paunch and the rest

left on the hillside. No green snake here

beneath green leaves, and the streams, buried

with their brothers, unmarked graves.


Lois Marie Harrod’s poetry collection Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth appeared in 2013. Her poems and stories have appeared in journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3.