Eighth Grade Science: Darwin Et Cetera

By Christopher Hennessy

Each day was an archipelago

of awkward hours, nothing ours,

a glass boat of only oars.

The waters in between, slow

red coals, bell-to-bell walks

along the rim of the event

horizon of this, our black

holes. The light is bent

into the aberrant face of ape,

pig, armadillo, buzzard: chimera

boy, finless swimmer. Drape

a fog to cover over the horror

of dodo, of island finch.

Drape a hood to smother

our bulging eyes. Cinch

a cord around it. Cover

us for our own safe misery,

our beaks like rodent teeth—

with nothing to cut they grow

through lip, chin, mouth, bone.

Pierce slow as continental drift,

mouths wired shut, bully’s gift.

We thin, we cool, eat a soup

of slur, see them sharpen, loop

like those teeth, into our head

a long suicide on the nurses’s bed.

O pangea! Reform! Make sleep

an island and not this deep lake.

Christopher Hennessy is the author of Love-In-Idleness, from Brooklyn Arts Press, a finalist for the Thom Gunn Award. His book Our Deep Gossip: Conversations with Gay Writers on Poetry and Desire is forthcoming from University of Wisconsin Press. He is also the author of Outside the Lines: Talking with Contemporary Gay Poets (University of Michigan Press). He earned an MFA from Emerson College and currently is a PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He was included in Ploughshares‘ special “Emerging Writers” edition, and his poetry, interviews, and book reviews have appeared in American Poetry Review, Verse, Cimarron Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, The Bloomsbury Review, Court Green, OCHO, Crab Orchard Review, Natural Bridge, Wisconsin Review, Brooklyn Review, Memorious, and elsewhere. Hennessy is a longtime associate editor for The Gay & Lesbian Review-Worldwide.