Two Poems by Stacey Gruver












I Take Threats Seriously


this is an awkward position but I'll hold it for you

you smell of questionable excretions and tea tree oil and

the yellow stains on the upholstery spread every time you visit


your fetishes leak into everything and you're a threat to the wildlife

I take threats seriously, my turtle mouth snaps up nettles


I can't feel the sting and I like the feel of limbs dangling between my teeth

I'm not a thief but watch where you put that hand

what I eat is mine


I'll take those wiggling fingers,

nip you right down to the first knuckle

and I won't care if you bleed, won't give back what you lose





Benthic Zone


her husband is gone for the evening


she's alone and it's getting dark and it's raining

the bedsheets sag with damp and the hiss of tires from distant traffic reach her in lazy waves


    it's the ocean again, thin and staticky 

    saltwater fills the room


her skin thins, expands, dissolves

she's losing her bones to jelly, but this time she's no fish

she needs room for what's floating in her, she makes room--

blue light spills in a stream of bioluminescence from the phone on her chest but she ignores its pulsing


    sound muffles, slows in her

    her mass distorts it

    her mass crushes things that don't belong inside her and 


tonight she wants only the soft, hungry things swimming through her currents to be uncrushed

she's filled with fangs and nematocysts and

a depth charge: another pulse, another swirl of light

she can't answer--


a dead leviathan is sinking through her,

slipping through the last wavelengths of light slowly enough for 

its bones to be colonized, bored into, digested

its flesh flaking away and spiraling around it, above it like a veil of snow


this body will feed many, many mouths, and she wants to be present for it

she has to watch until it settles

this body needs a witness, needs gratitude

for the gifts it gives to her depths 






Stacey Gruver is a poet and artist who lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2014, she was a recipient of the Maryland Individual Artists Award. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Eye to the Telescope, Noble / Gas Qtrly, YesPoetry, and The Puritan.


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