Kimberly Campanello Six Poems

Biographical Note              Contemporary Irish Poetry Index

Now
Bucranium
VERSE 4 from Hymn to Kālī
VERSE 9 from Hymn to Kālī
Love Poem as Reflection, as Presence
VERSE 16 from Hymn to Kālī

P .

Now

I.

Now the wracked bodies
of charred rabbits
have disappeared
from the fields
and the village is flooded
with people who can’t
speak the language.
Each day we help each other
peel back our eyelids
despite the sun.
We prepare food
with a rusting knife
made by a child
we don’t know
laboring
on the other side of the world.
We sharpen
a hundred pencils each
and work on new lines
to press into our palms
new veins to line our legs
new omniscience
to goad our hearts.

II.

To displace
the obelisk’s
stacked stone
To invent new trumpets
tubas saxophones
To march
To attack first with rosemary
then predictions
to demand money
to accept tears
To run up the street
from our offices
in high heels
to grab our babies
to feed them
from our breasts
then and there
To light candles
in the grotto
to light so many
it will explode

III.

I squat over these rising white ribbons,
these maggots reaching
and twisting themselves

from a rotting leg joint.
They promise me
there are salves

for all of this.
Salves stronger
than nuclear waste

with a smell
that could fill a church
like incense.

Biologists say
a maggot’s whole body
is covered with ocular cells,

eyes that never blink.
They always
respond to the light.

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P .

Bucranium

Copper kills sperm offerings, you see.
An old knowledge. That, and its
T-shape hovers and bounces
along womb walls, evicting occupants.
A bucranium within a bucranium.
Bull’s head and horns of the goddess.
Uterus and fallopian tubes. The coil.

Once we drilled holes in her stone belly,
filled them with branches and antlers
spreading outward like a child’s fingers
reaching for an egg. Once we carved
a triangle above her pubis
for the bull’s nose breathing
heat, rustling and shining wet
before the charge. Once we handed the ear
to the man who killed best. The heavy
body falling. The throngs rising
to their feet. Or we snatched rosettes
tied to the horns, twirled their
stems in our fingers, brought the petals
to our noses. And all of this means
something. Perhaps then, as now.

Now, this act of gynecology—someone
must reach in and twirl its strings
so we can know it’s still there.
Will it be me, or you? Copper
kills sperm offerings, you see. Once we
excarnated our corpses. Crows
tore skin from fat, fat from flesh,
exposed the bull’s horns for the first time.

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P .

VERSE 4 from Hymn to Kālī

O Dakṣiṇā

you’ve got me covered

.

you sever all my attachment

and shake this world’s bleeding head

.

you give me the signs

that I am lucky

and safe

.

and that I don’t

have to wander

searching

.

I only have to carry your lotus

in my palm

to enjoy its scent

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P .

VERSE 9 from Hymn to Kālī

so what can I
say to show you
I know you

you the origin

even the big
gods admit
they can’t explain

O Darkness Itself

forgive me
for trying

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P .

Love Poem as Reflection, as Presence

When bones
heal
we say
they knit
themselves
together.
Are we
plaiting ourselves
together
like the bones
of tantric dance aprons
human remains
carved first
sized perfectly
dipped
in liquid
to preserve
colour
for at least
1,000 years?
Or are we
mostly
shattered
stacked upon
ourselves
making
ourselves
substantial
like catacomb
arrangements?
And now
are you
slicing
and pulling
back
my scalp
to see
my skull’s
growth lines
proof
that I
have been?
Am I
seeing
your lines
right through
your skin?
Are you
coming
closer
closer
so I’ll crack
you open
and drink?

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P .

VERSE 16 from Hymn to Kālī

on Tuesdays I tear out a strand
of my beloved’s hair
cover it in my wetness
bring it to the graveyard at noon

for you O Kālī with you

I don’t give a shit
about death
my feet don’t even
touch the ground

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Poet Kimberly Campanello reads her poem “Chloran” in the UCD Special Collections Reading Room. Part of the Irish Poetry Reading Archive.