Three Poems by Cynthia Arrieu-King

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Something Beyond Interpretation

The fish survive all that radiation, whatever is a go-pass beyond poison.

Snow falling off at a slant from the scientific station
               ice adaptations that lead to the new normal.

An owner’s manual under a concrete donut,
               in its hole someone has planted a baby cactus.

He had given the tour so many times
He had given the tour so many many times
He had given that fifth grade assembly so many times 
                a pulsar emitting a death ray

A small pitcher to catch tears laid out on black velvet.
You wear this on your lapel after your planet dies.
You wait until the caught tears have evaporated.

Each exhibit came with an interpretive sign.
I could read them from ten feet but no more and trailed off.

The baboons so aggressive towards each other until the bacterial infections 

caused their hands to rot and they crawled on their elbows.
They couldn’t take it anymore so they started grooming each other.

He had given the tour and wanted something beyond interpretation.
What would it mean to imagine just the grass, 
the mountains, and the scrolling jellyfish?
O my hatred of the organized.


Enamel fans 

milk gems in beveled 

bracelets, keptness more

organized than cliffs

in a velour drawer, peace 

this face still sweetness

weighed down I take off

half the jewelry I try

other news: what’s missing seems 

to complete the outfit 

indecision and teal satin 

chef Bourdain in a tux 

stands in the corner

ready to suggest that I 

meet him in an alley with  

a pot of boiling water  

green going gold— 

personal frontier is one screen 

but ambition to go out 

isn’t fair. I recall partition— 

the din of the whole

armour,  circumspection

reached daily     two emojis

clanking in a battle; 

lobster, I have important 

colors to discuss with you

you bridge of used vases

you know better all the

disappearing petals bursting and fading

this’ll be your story broken

like back porch light on

a piece of infrastructure


working on a monologue

what a stuffed animal pineapple says

to a small girl

crowded by stuffed cherry, corn

pea pod, scarecrow, toy crow

the cheers for cerise the poly fur pineapple

rumpled, twenty bucks

on etsy. They all sit eyes bugged

on an ikat green and white chair

they heard that moment you made up

fake English words for entertainment

gelen trian and brate

they wait eyelashes mondiale worldwide

as if we could reverse the pineapple farms

restore the brush

undo the pluck

unshuck the corn

recork the champagne

splatter peas, all ye imperialist

characters, you kernels, seeds, bubbles,

pits wet with dark red flesh

Cynthia Arrieu-King is an associate professor of creative writing at Stockton University and a former Kundiman Fellow. Her books include People are Tiny in Paintings of China (Octopus Books 2010), Manifest (Switchback Books 2013), Futureless Languages (Radiator Press 2018) and Continuity (Octopus Books 2019). She edited the Asian Anglophone issue of dusie and helped assemble the posthumous book of poems by Hillary Gravendyk, The Soluble Hour (Omnidawn Books 2017). She lives in the East Coast Megalopolis and in Louisville, Kentucky.

Amitav Ghosh and Curt Stager
Antarctica has been losing mass from its ice sheet at an alarming pace. This 2011 image taken from the NASA Terra spacecraft shows a massive crack across Pine Island Glacier, on the continent's west side. Only two years later, a large iceberg completely separated from the glacier. In February of this year, a major crack in Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf grew within twenty miles of the sea and threatens to collapse the Antarctic Peninsula's northern end. Photo by NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.

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