Emily Rosko


There was a case study I was
later informed. Designed as a system
of checks. Mice hooked by tubes
and a monkey that upraised
a wreck. Plottings by coordinates

on graph paper, sodium level
intake, the raw-rubbed head
of a teddy. And there were strangers
who called from afar. Mostly they
were kind. They brought with them

a memory-set. It was a project,
I was responsible. Each rabbit
deskinned, lucky leg a child
carries. A piece I’ve mislaid, a flash-card

carousel I don’t want to spin on.
(I’m tiger when designated, other
times I clam and shell out
what’s given). My insides turned
wishy. This syringe innocent. Then,

a return to the original
routine genetic detasseling. Long
stretch of know-nothing concrete
and blank-faced buildings and
here we go around the mulberry

bush. It’s a forever Monday.
The chloroform’s burning sweet.

[I play the torturer by small and small]

I’ll have what it takes
if taking rooks the larger
placeholding. Rounded by
centered logic. The mountain
disabled, turned hole and sore
spot opened in the crust. Water-filled.
Sludged for the small substance:
mineral mined by hands
which will never touch
the worth. We’re to get
to the bottom, told to hate the world
a plenty. I’d count the instrument’s
finer calculations, tension pointed
sharp-toothed blade.
Meager as goats the bodies
on the trash heaps. Beggared
for a past lost, handed out. The rocks
shard my eyes. How to unlearn
this self I’ve wanted to be? Scrape it
low, pick each bone clean.

Emily Rosko’s two poetry collections are Prop Rockery, awarded the 2011 Akron Poetry Prize, and Raw Goods Inventory, an Iowa Poetry Prize winner in 2005. She is editor of A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (University of Iowa Press, 2011). Her poems appeared most recently in Another Chicago MagazineAntioch Review, New Orleans Review and has work forthcoming in Anti-. She is assistant professor at the College of Charleston and poetry editor for Crazyhorse.

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