by Jennifer hanks


Somehow each wolf skull on your desk
          smells like licorice when
it's in my hands. I am trying
          to be patient, but Canidae
is the family of your heart, 
          Canid, the object of your envy:
you want jowls and inches
          of red fur and I am a coil of river weeds. 

Make me a pillow of milk snakes
          and I will lie down. Let
their tongues flick my ear cavities.
          I am trying to be patient, 
but you've dipped my fingertips
          in milk, you've asked me
to write messages to your god
          that you cannot read
on the canvas of your stomach.

You say you love the silt
          I am covered in; I am trying
to be patient but I am
          no river's mouth. Do not
make me your oracle. Hand me
          a bowl of seawater and I will sip it
but no eggs will spill
          from my lips. I am no mother
of wishing fish.

I've tried it silent, your hands
          clawing my back,
your mind in permafrost,
          my tongue a stone. 
I am trying to be patient
          but what saint
would regrind your bones?
          What potion of mine
would give you sharper teeth?
You imagine for me
          a corset of scales: 
it's the undertones of my skin
          you mistake    for light.


Jennifer reads "Oracle"

Jennifer Hanks is an MFA candidate at the University of New Orleans. Their work has appeared in Arcadia, PANK, Muzzle Magazine, and Word Riot, among other journals. Their essay "Bird Language" was finalist for Sundog Lit's annual nonfiction competition. They read for the excellent Quaint Magazine. Their chapbook, The Unsteady Planet, a collaboration with illustrator Julie Herndon, is forthcoming from Instar Books in 2016. You can find more of their work at