Two Poems

Awkward Mermaid
Oct 30, 2018 · 3 min read

by Kara Dorris

Old Farmer’s Almanac

When you say he rises & falls over her like a full moon,

you mean her Farmer’s Almanac never closes.

You mean in January, he Full Wolf Moon smiles

at her blackened face against snowdrifts.

February, a Snow Moon but the name

too midwinter lovely white when

she prefers Full Hunger Moon;

in bad weather they can’t escape each other —

When you say he rises & falls over her like a full moon

you mean her life expectancy depends on his elliptical orbit:

a small steady eccentricity of raised arms & staggering.

In March, when temperatures warm & ground emerges,

his Full Worm Moon hands circle her dead creepers & vines.

You mean he uses tongues & the backs of eyelids

to mask April’s Full Pink Moon moss-medicated scrapes.

May’s Full Flower Moon doesn’t bless her because

through June’s Strawberry Moon he beast her barren.

Her mouth rimmed in red & pricks, bleeds of black seeds.

When you say he rises & falls over her like a full moon,

you mean Full Thunder Moon antlers push out in July.

August’s Full Red Moon crimsoning through a blushed haze.

September, the Full Harvest Moon razes corn stalks

at the autumn equinox, & for one night only

equal distance measured between his body & hers.

You mean, October’s Full Hunter’s Moon traps & bleeds

warm winter furs before swamps freeze.

In November, the Full Frost Moon, a distilled

winter of smacking, stinging leather.

The Full Long Nights Moon, cold & dark December,

hangs above the horizon the longest,

his entire self visible opposite a low sun.

& still, you mean, in between this full moon

& that full moon, her almanac resting under baking recipes,

full, hemlock-fisted.


Prayer for Comfort

Why did my brother have to find

our father transformed

by junk, more plant than man,

a state where pain’s absence teaches nothing?

Did you create pain as a figment

of the human mind?

My brother said, I have cancer.

You watched as our father said yes,

I know, it’s in your mother’s bones.

We invent countless ways to comfort,

to extend the pain threshold.

I know knowing we can carry

more pain than we think is a comfort.

Take me to this moment quicker,

to the edge of tide & sand, grit

& flood of injury. I want to know

what you know, for us to hold signs

that say point to your shoreline of pain

& I’ll point to mine. Then anyone

could hurt us, we could hurt anyone

as easily as you. Then we would understand

why rose thorns are a kind of mercy,

why our hands are a kind of thorns,

why you save wisteria from wanderlust

& saved the dusky seaside sparrow

from itself. You have shown us

that we are all creatures of the day,

rememberer & remembered alike,

that we are some sense of the seed

we emerge from, of the seeds

that emerge from us. You have shown us

the moment we know we should stop

searching, but don’t — when the warmth

of a falling star is a death wish,

the escort of a funeral motorcade,

when steps forward are steps into

catacombs, & the weight of our sky

is the weight of the sea.


Kara Dorris earned a PhD in literature and poetry at the University of North Texas. Currently, she is an assistant professor of English at Illinois College. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, I-70 Review, Southword, Rising Phoenix, Harpur Palate, Cutbank, Hayden Ferry Review, Tinderbox, Puerto del Sol, The Tulane Review, andCrazyhorse, among others literary journals, as well as the anthology Beauty is a Verb (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Her stories have appeared in Wordgathering, Waxwing, and the anthology The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked (Cinco Puntos Press, 2016). She has published four chapbooks: Elective Affinities (dancing girl press, 2011), Night Ride Home (Finishing Line Press, 2012), Sonnets from Vada’s Beauty Parlor & Chainsaw Repair (dancing girl press, 2018), and Untitled Film Still Museum (CW Books, 2019).

Awkward Mermaid

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Awkward Mermaid is an online literary community and safe space for writers to share freely their experiences with mental illness.

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