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W. Todd Kaneko


My heart is a nest for your shadow, clear

November for a swag of black feathers

against snow. My oven is that hollow

where sorrow bursts with fat, where grief is

cavitied for flesh. Prayer makes us

explain ourselves to ourselves, crows

jagged where we once had canary song

because our hearts make up a forest,

deciduous where we gather, pigeon dark

for the frost. The woods are full of animal

sounds—donkey bray, hog bawl, that scrape

of tongue against uvula, tooth against stone

for tender sparks. You are hooves and hair.

You are vertebrae and memory of hot breath

because my heart is a tongue of flame, tiny

where it has settled into this wreath of awful

bones—nowhere to go, nothing but sleep

now that the antler is free of the buck,

the wing is free of the sky and flesh

is free from the spirit, from the spit,

from the mouth that that has promised

to swallow us all back into the earth.

Kaneko Photo - Credit Tyler Steimle - Todd Kaneko.jpg


W. Todd Kaneko is the author of the poetry books This Is How the Bone Sings and The Dead Wrestler Elegies. He is co-author with Amorak Huey of the poetry chapbook Slash/Slash and Poetry: A Writers’ Guide and Anthology. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Alaskan Quarterly Review, Massachusetts Review, The Normal School, Barrelhouse, Verse Daily, Poetry Daily, the American Academy of Poets Poem-A-Day, and elsewhere. A Kundiman Fellow, he lives with his family in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he teaches at Grand Valley State University.

Bear Review


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