I’m a bad arrow, a good ghost.

All intent, no motion, no direction.

The target’s wet red mouth leers

before me, behind it a stand of trees

that long to kill me. See how they lean.

My mother’s hands wound me

into the right shape for spinning,

cut my point with her own brown teeth.

I want to move. I want to die.

An arrow that won’t fly is condemned

to haunt the bow. Mother I don’t blame

your hold; I’m the one who can’t let go.

Our shapes, so different,

our substance the same. Mother

I work so hard at all the wrong things,

I labor for no fruits, bad wood with

nothing growing. What am I good for?

What am I—? Good is all I’ve ever wanted

for you, and all I gave you was this rot.

You kill the tree in hopes of a good arrow,

straight flight, strong cut, and yet

always the wood fails on you.

The death hangs on. Infects the new

purpose. I remember too much

of what I was, I wish for too much

to be good anymore. Goodness.

What is it all for?


In the morning I plow my mother’s field for more gold,

though I’ve never found any.

Ohio unfurls not far enough west. A brown gold flag

whose waving you only know by how the wind snaps it.

In softdark Pittsburgh nights I dream of another city.

I live by every five dollars,

the way the Beats did it.

I hate my mother for starting too poor and ending too wealthy.

Now I start wealthy,

end poor.

New York, I love you, I look for you in every alley.

I know you like I know my mother

will give me money if I ask her.

I hate this city

but at least it’s a city. If my education fails

I can sell pierogies I can’t eat.

The only things I inherited from my mother were vegetarianism

and not enough money for a donation to Columbia.

I mean this hopelessness

is all mine:

to be a writer is to render eloquent your own demise.

My veins too thin

for heroin, my arms too fat for prostitution,

I drink vodka from coffee mugs in dorms without air-conditioning

and dream of Foucault.

How he idolized 1960s America

and the Psychedelic era so much he hired a fan to drive him

into Death Valley

just to take LSD. Then rewrote his mind.

I learned too late the limits of my mother’s love; I drove her dry.

My failures are past fixing. I’d be a better poet on drugs.

I love you, Jack, but I don’t like you much.

Divyasri Krishnan is the author of PRIMORDIAL KNOWLEDGE (Bottlecap Press). Her work is published or forthcoming in Muzzle Magazine, Hobart Pulp, Rejection Letters, and elsewhere. She is a Best of the Net finalist, and she reads for The Adroit Journal.