Homecoming Cistern Alien Vessel

Oh, my planet, how beautiful 
you are. Little curve that leads me 
to the lakeside. Let me step out

of the sack of skin I wore 
on earth. It’s good to be home. 
No more need to name me. No more 

need to make the shape of a machete
with my mouth. Pushing up up up the tired 
sides that want to drop below my teeth.

Lord, I’ve missed you. The streets
covered all day in light from the moons. 
I was confused all the time. I wanted so much.

My hole felt like a gut with an antler
rammed through it. So lonely and strange
and always trying to smile. Coin of the realm.

And my arms open and my life
coming in and out of the “ATM.”
Once I saw a fox leap inside the morning

light and made the same shape
of myself. Once I watched the boats
and also rocked back and forth.

How does every person not cry out 
all the time? Yes, it was good to eat 
doughnuts. Yes. I was blessed by many 

days of joy. A rabbit in the driveway.
A rosemary bush with a sorcerer’s cloak
of spider webs. Brian Eno. 

The Hammond B3 Organ that never asked
me who I knew. But that body.
Like a factory. That mind like a ship

built to pile in other bodies. Skin like a
sow without any of the sow’s equanimity.
It reflected nothing. Pink skin. Blue eyes

hard as an anvil. Like a window with covering
that refuses the passerby’s gaze. I loved 
the bully power some days. Oh my pleasure 

in not causing harm. My pride. I’m not like 
so-and-so. My pink skin preaching, my pink skin 
yawping out my other hole, “I did not choke 

the man with my elbow!” “Would never!” 
“I let all the boys in hoodies walk
through dark streets.” “I did not shoot

them with my guns!” The ship rising
up inside me. As if the fox felt pride 
for not tearing the bird to pieces. As if 

the owl’s heart grew large from not 
wrecking the squirrel’s nest. My pink skin 
a sail full of indignation. My eyes pitching

across the feed. It is so good to be home
and yet. I have a ship inside. How can 
the organ welcome me? I’m not a sow 

on her worst day. Which would be what? 
Breaking from the barn? Eating all the acorns
and rolling in the mud? No.

Her worst would be at my hands 
and on my plate for supper. Grow
like the tree, the man who heals

the bodies said. In every way I became
the ship rising in the harbor. 
How can I be welcomed after that?

More by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

A Word From the Fat Lady

It isn't how we look up close
so much as in dreams.

Our giant is not so tall,
our lizard boy merely flaunts

crusty skin- not his fault 
they keep him in a crate

and bathe him maybe once a week.
When folks scream or clutch their hair

and poke at us and glare and speak
of how we slithered up from Hell,

it is themselves they see:
the preacher with the farmer's girls

(his bulging eyes, their chicken legs)
or the mother lurching towards the sink,

a baby quivering in her gnarled 
hands. Horror is the company

you keep when shades are drawn.
Evil does not reside in cages.

Graves We Filled Before the Fire

Some lose children in lonelier ways:
tetanus, hard falls, stubborn fevers

that soak the bedclothes five nights running.
Our two boys went out to skate, broke

through the ice like battleships, came back
to us in canvas bags: curled

fossils held fast in ancient stone,
four hands reaching. Then two

sad beds wide enough for planting
wheat or summer-squash but filled

with boys, a barren crop. Our lives
stripped clean as oxen bones.

Rocket Fantastic [excerpt]

He's really beautiful. When he's standing in the trees like that and thinks nobody sees him. He's like a stag. Which sounds silly but he is. The way the light shines on him. The way it bounces off his hair like spray from the sprinkler. And he doesn't know it right then. Because he's looking somewhere else. Maybe up at a bird. I was standing a few feet away and turned back because I heard him whistling when he thought I wasn't listening. He wasn't thinking of me. He was looking at a bird who was sitting in the tree and looking back at him. If his shirt was off he'd have been dappled golden in the sun coming through the leaves. He didn't notice me watching him without his shirt on. He was standing in the forest and the sun was coming through the trees and covering him so he glowed. I knew he'd be warm if I walked up and touched him. And probably not mad. He's like something in a movie or like a book we'd read in summer by the pool. He didn't see me looking because he was so peaceful staring at the bird.

Related Poems

Dear Lonely Animal,

I'm writing to you from the loneliest, most
secluded island in the world. I mean, 
the farthest away place from anything else.

There are so many fruits here growing on trees
or on vines that wrap and wrap. Fruits
like I've never seen except the bananas.

All night the abandoned dogs howled.
I wonder if one dog gives the first howl, and if 
they take turns who's first like carrying 

the flag in school. Carrying the flag 
way out in front and the others 
following along behind in two long lines, 

pairs holding hands. Also the roosters here crow 
from 4am onward. They're still crowing right now 
and it's almost noon here on the island.

Noon stares back no matter where you are.  
Today I'm going to hike to the extinct volcano 
and balance on the rim of the crater. Yesterday 

a gust almost blew me inside. I heard 
that the black widows live inside the volcano 
far down below in the high grasses that you can't 

see from the rim. Well, I was going to tell you 
that this morning the bells rang and I 
followed them and at the source of the bells, 

there I found so many animals 
all gathered together in a room 
with carved wooden statues

and wooden benches and low wooden slats 
for kneeling. And the animals were there 
singing together, all their voices singing, 

with big strong voices rising from even 
the filthiest animals. I mean, I've seen animals 
come together and sing before, except in 

high fancy vaults where bits of colored glass 
are pieced together into stories. Some days 
I want to sing with them.

I wish more animals sang together all the time.
But then I can't sing sometimes
because I think of the news that happens

when the animals stop singing.  
And then I think of all the medications 
and their side effects that are advertised 

between the pieces of news. And then I think 
of all the money the drug companies spent
to videotape their photogenic, well-groomed animals,

and all the money they spent to buy 
a prime-time spot, and I think, what money 
buys the news, and what news 

creates the drugs, and what
drugs control the animals, and I get so
choked I can't sing anymore, Lonely Animal.  

I can't sing with the other animals. Because it's 
hard to know what an animal will do when it 
stops singing. It's complicated, you know, it's just 

complicated—