From Irrational Knowledge

Megan Burns


(How does it die?)


desired word unbounded

asks questions never answered

weaving among lines surrendered

among shoulders

a spiral for melody, a spiral

water driven & phrased

“heart hard as leather”

a dream dreamed

not yet walked

out on: dearest climbers

of ivory towers

to put this song

gutter-down my sad face

galloping away, this world without you

is an impossibility, hoofed in an octave

strapped in the volta

it was a million to one



(What must it meet up with on the dissecting table for it to look beautiful?)


double crossed: two versions

shift of joint in the ball socket

a dove song on limbs

folded out on the table

a discarded, opened envelope

betrayed by fingerprints

smudges in the eye creases

across the sunset


orange splattered about the dark

no ticket stub to mark the occasion


in a that sky

it’s a long armed horizon

its slice of clouding

a curve where light comes

to be eye to eye

up to the crease

the crack where I break you




(With what two objects would one wish to see it in the desert?)


cyclical bands of light, a greenery

to remember I jot down this quiet

honeysuckle, the way ivory smells

or how your hair was collected

a paring down in the sloughing off of cells

ritually I bore you up

but under wing

I wanted to splice each gamete

each stylized stamen, pistil

whipped and lovely as locks

a castling where the moat is full

of dandelions

where the tea is half nettle

half collated fingernails





(On which spot of the nude body of a woman would you place it?)








shuttled sapphire



spored scaffolding::   sound/sound



speech supplicated          slivers


         sirens sized   






silvered            sideways





    shadow         she


    subtitled        she



      scattered        she






(And if the woman were sleeping?)


for tracey mctague


above in a state of dirty corners

swept up: this sad conclusion

yew trees clipped


the earth opened up to spit

cat claw roots

bulbs bigger than a baby’s head


an avocado tree of one yellow leaf

distracts me from the story

  outside of this geography

two warblers you were

crooning a tale of cross citied



I sat on a wire downwind & smelled

something burning

this triangle seems darker

but its little light is how we came

to belly up bar-faced in pits of oyster shell

it was all giggles, fat tips

and a balance of encrusted





(And if she were dead?)


in the slendered perfect


arm bones, leg bones, a soup


of hands tilted, listening, tiny ear bones


clicking to aside

         to aisle

         to assemble


a row of thorns flowering beneath the breast

a row of cutlets firming in the sun


I cut out bandages from loose leaf

to spoon up blood


spun tendons round the joints

I flexed and fidgeted


the lights stayed dim

no inhale on the out take

no late dream before awake




Megan Burns
Megan Burns

Megan Burns edits the poetry magazine, Solid Quarter ( She has been most recently published in Jacket Magazine, Callaloo, New Laurel Review, Trickhouse, and the Big Bridge New Orleans Anthology. Her book Memorial + Sight Lines was published in 2008 by Lavender Ink. She has two chapbooks, Frida Kahlo: I am the poem (2004) and Framing a Song (2010) from Trembling Pillow Press. She lives in New Orleans where she and her husband, poet Dave Brinks, run the weekly 17 Poets! Literary and Performance Series.