The Leopard and the Moth

You’ve got snow leopard eyes.
I’m an oldwife underwing
perched on the last wheat stems,
sunning myself
before the cold world sleeps.

Frostbound tigress,
prowl under the bridge of trolls:
The toll is a knife in your mouth,
and I’d break my heart on your headstone
if I could just find the perfect
elegy to sing for you.

The ice on the reeds
at the river’s bank
melts beneath your breath.
I want that breath on my neck–
sandpaper tongue–
and teeth to reap
the red grains from it.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.


This is a fragile thing.

This belly full of a musketballs.

Bleed your blue and grey,
but don’t forget your brother’s knife
the one your father gave him.

Snap the fragile edge
against your throat

Mother, won’t you tend this wound,
stitch the ragged ends together
the suture is a chasm
the chasm is a scalpel cut
and I don’t remember the surgeon’s name

but I remember your brother’s knife,
I remember your brother’s wife
and the child they stitched
this family with.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

Black Goldfish

Last night,
I chopped down a cedar tree,
only its trunk
was your trunk,
and your belly its bark,
and the arc of the axe
my whetstone tongue.

A waterfall spilled out
and black goldfish too,
hundreds of them,
a pregnancy of tiny scaled gods,
pouring all down your thighs
black goldfish flashes
and every time
I kissed your trembling lips
they’d ignite and burn to ashes.

The fish, I mean,
because your lips no longer burn,
but I kissed them all the same
until all your black goldfish
whirled in white ash eddies
like snow dust around us.

What left to do
but what next I did?:

I put them back,
packed the crack in your bark
with the burnt snow
of all the tiny goldfish
you spilled onto my tongue.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

The Subtle Violence of Dreaming

Here is a lesson in violence:
what brutal delight is better indulged
than waking?

With the opening of your eyes
you rip yourself from the sticky wall
of Morpheus’ oneiric womb,
sever the tendrils of worlds
not yet opened to you
and now never to be so.

You are left with a splatter
of dreamblood upon your lip,
The faint copper taste of memories
that flee for their lives
from you, cruel waker.
Sated, you pretend gentility
through the journey of an arcing
arrowed sun.

Gloom beckons the beast from you;
in darkness and sleep,
you prey on dreams again.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

Sleep Study

Because I snore at night and wake
chewing on a tongue of terror,
my doctor prescribed a sleep study.

Tonight, at the hospital,
a nurse binds me to a clinic bed
with sensors and wires and straps,
an electric kind of bondage —
I am tubed and surveilled,
expected to sleep soundly
in this antiseptic ghost of a bedroom,
where someone always listens
and someone always watches.

Two a.m., half-addled, I teeter
on consciousness, stumble-drunk,
one foot in the world and one in slumber.
Stare at the glass eye over my head
and wonder what all this paraphernalia
tells my nurse about me. What
can she read on her charts and monitors?

Can she see the yellow eyes
that have stalked through
my sleep since I was a child?

Can she see the name tags
fettered to my wet dreams?

When I wake, I’ll ask her
if she can draw me a map
through the architecture of sleep
to the fountain where
my poetry spills forth,

to the spring in the rock
and the steaming basin of words
where I drown every night;

every morning, I surface and gasp
for air, wring what drops of poetry
I can out of my beard and onto the page,
and, spent, forget my way back
until sleep seduces me again.

Bee Eater

I dreamt you were a honeycomb,
and I plucked bees out of
your sticky hexagonal cells
and popped them into my mouth
like striped, juicy candies.

I savored each exoskeletal crunch,
the gush of honey meat
beneath thorax and abdomen,
final plaintive plunge of

sticker-stinger into swollen tongue
and gum: you taste like fire feels.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

The Great Red Mouth, The Tooth

I dreamt of you last night.

Not you by name or you by face,
but you as the fever under my skin knows you:

The great red mouth opens wide,
the tongue works at the loosened tooth,
the tongue writhes in the brine barrel,
the tongue nails itself to the deck boards,
the cats pace hungry on the porch
for a mouth of meat.

The great red mouth
yawns down a quart of honey,
yawns down a quart of molten salt
what are you trying to cure?
what are you trying to preserve?
you end yourself trying but try —
I’m done trying.

In this dream of you,
I am the tooth; I rock in the gum,
declaring myself
with the copper not-blood taste of error,
with the bent angle bite,
with the wrong cradle, the wrong dock
for the incisor me.

Let me leap loose
from your great red mouth;
clench your jaw and I swear to god
I’ll crack and splinter; I’ll myself shear off
even if I leave my goddamn root behind.

Great red mouth
spit me out, wrench me out,
let me berth off in a bite of red apple
or I swear to god
I’ll abscess myself. I’ll eat you alive.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

A Room Full of Lights and Us and God

When no one was looking,
we cut off the head of God
and dragged it under the mountains.
We took it under the earth,
where the sky couldn’t find it
to take it back from us,
and we loved it there.

We dragged God’s big hairy head
into the belly of the earth
and put it in a room full of lights,
full of electricity and full of steel
and full of us and God.

We talked to it. We told it stories,
we asked it questions,
we kissed it we kissed it
on the tip of its big leather nose
and we slept there beside it,
in a room full of lights
and the smell of God’s breath.
When no one was looking,
we braided wildflowers into
God’s big bushy eyebrows.

We watched them wilt
and we drew pictures with our fingers
on God’s big spongy tongue
and we talked to ourselves.

We told ourselves stories,
we asked ourselves questions,
because God wasn’t listening
and we kissed we kissed
our own little noses,

in a room full of lights,
full of us and a God
we couldn’t make speak.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

Trees of Life

I saw on the news
that scientists have learned
to grow the cells of a heart muscle
in the cellulose left behind
when you suck out
everything that makes
a leaf of spinach
    a leaf of spinach.

Hollowed out, limp white, the ghosts
of greenery can be seeded
with the tiniest dose
of humanity, a scattering
of frightened cells that grasp
the vascular scaffold
and cling for dear life —
these wisps of blood remember
another time when we huddled like this,
against the walls of ventricular caves
back before time had a name —
our cells huddle and cling
until plant and muscle merge
and chlorophyll learns
to give up sunlight and sustain
itself on the thu-thump thu-thump
of pulse and bloodflow.

It turns out you can transform
all sorts of vegetation into veins: parsley,
sweet wormwood, arterial jewelweed —
even the straight column from twig or stick
can be worried down to translucent shell
and taught to become a vessel of blood.

That night I slept and dreamt
of red vines that crept aortic at my ankles,
of lush capillary jungles, flooded, throbbing,
of a garden of wild muscle —

a place where the sun rises cardiac,
red on petals engorged, a place where,
when rain showers gently down,
you can stroll among the stems,

run the tips of your fingers across
the veins of the leaves,
and feel heartbeats in the blossoms,
in the four-chambered pistil and stamen,
in the breath of pollen, a mist like copper.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.


Every night this week,
I keep dreaming
that you throw me out
the open door of an airplane,
into 30,000 feet of blue —

You fling me out head first,
without altimeter or oxygen,
no tandem partner lashed to my back.
You cast me into solitude and blue,

not endless blue but ended blue,
a sharp-capped blue, a snapped-shut blue,
30,000 feet of blue and love
before the blue stops.

You cast me into solitude and love,
into 30,000 finite feet of your love.

This must be the weightlessness of your love.
This whirl into vapor, this vertigo.
A broad gasp of green looms up
to crack me open and I do not know
whether the stones in the ground,
whether the tiny houses, the lines of roads
are supposed to be a map to find you again
or just a picturesque countryside
to lull me down.

Is this the anxiety, the panic of your love?
Your love hammers the ribs in my chest;
your love is a scarcity of air, a burned lung —
a strained muscle, air pressure blowout–
I am trying to tell my body
we are all falling here at once
but some parts want to fall faster for you.

I cannot find the up of your love.
I am all turned around, I am whirled
head over heels over head
over heels over head
and there’s no way up,
no way down but down, but gravity
into slashes of blue and slashes of green
that circle and blur and whirl.
I am whirled; I am a world of your love,
a dead weight blackout of love,
a terminal velocity, a body dropped of love.

Every night this week,
I snap to wake as body breaks ground,
your name the cord of a parachute
clenched white-knuckle tight,
never snatched.

— Adam Kamerer


Behind The Scenes

Want to know the story behind this poem? Patrons who pledge $5/month or more get access to behind-the-scenes notes on my poems.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.