Forest for the Trees

I want to write about trees but policemen
’s boots smashed off their limbs, propelling their men to
surveillance—fire-sitter satellites
cupping your breasts in night
vision I want to write

about trees but policewomen
told their men to end brutality by stripping
away the bark their prey
weave into diapers, menstrual pads, and other
naked & dripping cannot resist I want

to write about trees but police officers
help an old woman across the street, and I must
post the video to Facebook I

want to write about trees but police
, waiting among salal and salmonberry, refuse
making nightsticks from their roots—
metal from metal goes quicker to the brain
and even crushing lungs keeps hands

unstained I
want to write
the trees


Elizabeth Kate Switaj ( is the Chair of Liberal Arts at the College of the Marshall Islands. She holds a PhD in English from Queen’s University Belfast and has taught in Japan and China. Her first collection, Magdalene & the Mermaids, is published by Paper Kite Press, and her poems have recently appeared in Hawaii Review, Potluck Mag, and Silver Birch Press.


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