Folktale for Ground Dwellers

there was a lizard small & scaled
a blackgreen thing

on a cement sidewalk cracked
with my two monstrous loves

crossed this reptile this bellied stringbean
from boreholes from hot rocks

my two wanted to poke
as the smallish & curious tend

it spoke to me
I’d bled at least

one monstrous love down my legs

that lizard knew how much I’d given
how much I’d been given back

second chances are for the broken
it said such slithered luck such shining

beastly love
it disappeared & my two followed

& I’ve kept up

Jennifer Givhan, a National Endowment for the Arts & PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellow, is a Mexican-American writer & activist from the Southwestern desert. She is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize), Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Poetry Prize Series edited by Billy Collins), & Girl with Death Mask(2017 Blue Light Books Prize chosen by Ross Gay & forthcoming from Indiana University Press). Givhan also has three chapbooks available or forthcoming from Glass Poetry Press, dancing girl press, & Yellow Flag Press. Her novella Jubilee is currently a finalist for the Bakwin Award from Carolina Wren Press and her novel Trinity Sight has signed with Curtis Brown Literary Agency. Her honors include the Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, a National Latino Writers’ Conference Scholarship, the Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, Phoebe Journal’s Greg Grummer Poetry Prize chosen by Monica Youn, the Pinch Poetry Prize chosen by Ada Limón, & seven Pushcart nominations. Her work has appeared in Best of the Net, Best New Poets, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Ploughshares, POETRY, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, AGNI, Crazyhorse, Witness, Southern Humanities Review, Missouri Review, & The Kenyon Review, among many others. She can be found at as well as Facebook & Twitter (@JennGivhan).


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