“Land Animal” by Daniela Buccili

Today, Lise and Kolleen Carney-Hoepfner explore “Land Animal” by Daniela Buccilli, submitted to Zoetic Press for its Viable chapbook series.


Doctors prescribed eight ounces
a day. We had so much water.

The sleepy centipede drank
drips from the basement laundry tub.

I showered daily under a shower head
of brontosaurus grace.

Water gave us cover
to sob ugly.

Water rushed toward water
in cellular reunion.

Though it fell easy
all around us, so holy

that we dipped our infants, blessed
our foreheads from public stoups,

it could not clean us, or
our victims, the returning soldier,

the dry-skinned farmers,
the diesel mechanic, the duck,

the surgeon, the hands
of the police.

Teachers promised children
they were mostly water.

Water was not a metaphor.

Hard water collected metal.
It gurgled through soil & rock,

into the houses, stained ceramic sinks
with rust blood & dulled our brains.

We didn’t know how to remove it.
We pretended it wasn’t poison.


Curve in the crick
where the blueberry bush
gives up three or four to the birds,
I stand in love with you.
Just me & you among
the elephant ear shrubs,
in between the dumping days,
when you are clear enough
that I can make out my face.
I could drink you.
They have made bike trails
out of old train tracks,
but the drillers are coming.
Today, I pull mid-century
trash from your bank,
you wash my hands.

On the occasion of the naturalist’s visit

Given that sometimes the naturalist
Enters the ecosystem as a predator,

Given that we all have the predator instinct,
I wonder what mine has been doing all my life.

Given that the Naturalist asks
The class to look at the trees,

Given that no one knows the name of any tree or bird,
He names them for us.

Given that the lotus trees
Seem to be hosting a party outside the window,

Given that I am not supposed to
Anthropomorphize trees or personify birds,

Given I
Stand around exposed like a tree,

Given I do
A kind of internal churning,

Given I do not know
The language of trees—

Are the young
Oaks too friendly with the starlings?

A solitary ash takes into account soil-time.
The sole & lonely ash has dressed in shelf mushrooms.

The flying saucers have crashed into her cliffs.
Errant frisbees.

Given that to the left of the forest
A bus has spilled

University students
Who now wait with ostrich intensity

At the corners of Forbes & Morewood,
Murmuration with bookbags,

Joy pops bubble wrap
In my chest.

Given the little space there is here,
It only follows, therefore,

The occasional naming
Of a tree & bird, or the not naming,

Harmless, especially to the angry red
Clump of feathers in a ski mask

Who has paused its twitching
& scratching to consider me

Trapped beneath
A frozen sheet of water.

Dear resident/resistor,

For the last five yelps & yodels, Rape Ransom,
LLC / Range Resources has been producing
gasbags & gasps. Over your yells & our yes-men,
we have become a party to your confusion
from millionaire dolts to robin incinerators.
RR has strived to be a good neighbor
& a compassionate paramour.

As such, we recognize there are some assassins
among our impresarios, who committed virtual
infractions to residents. With those in mind, we
recently decided to adhere to & comply with –
look, a lapwing! designed to protect the residues
of Mt. Pleasant & allow us to operate safely without
competence. In fact, our organ-machined lashes go
further than any legal rehashing we have seen to
dazzle, with termites of scorn & scowling resistors,
many of which are excessive mandated realities.

Some jabs include: informational melancholy
with resolutions for entrepreneurial townies & sexy
megalomaniacs for any residue within 2,500
footfalls of a well-proportioned gas-masked
gatekeeper. A voluntary Cod of Cons that restrict
access for pirate ships so that the drilling pedi
remains fashionable, clean, & orderly for all
teleportations back to Texas.

Rape Rangers, LLC numbingly debated
your mountain otters, & impressed them
with our intentionally complicated order,
as it is so much better than the one they wrote.
RR is confident that our work will be universally
loved as a model for how to dick around residents
& produce violence for the benefit of you pissers.

Thank you for your tenuous life.

Land animal song

I’ve had bruises but the bruises faded.
My breasts have holes where cysts existed.

My skin flakes in paper patches.
Knees have scars & so do faces.

An Italian doctor carved me a navel.
A laparoscopy wrecked his work.

In the hollow dark of my pelvis, a cervix
cut & singed. Razor nicks, hoary ghost worms.

One night I was strangled, but not to death.
My nose holds the stain of a pinch to the bridge.

The bite to my calf moved & shifted a vein,
a highway redirected, a forest burned & replanted.


Walk out like a man with his hands
behind his back. Look for a dove
who lights out from the weeds—
There’s some courage for you.
Walk like the cafeteria lady
worried about onions.
It doesn’t matter how you do it.
I’ll be there where I said I would.
You’ll see a mountain. Look.
Walk through the spindly chicory.
There will be time in the shower
to pick the ticks from the folds
of your crotch. Walk.
I know a hillside filled
with yellow-headed rabe.
There’s enough to eat.
Hang your arms over
the railroad tie bridge.
Tease the top off the water.
Breathe the silt. Look.
Rain has strained itself
through the rocks & grass
to meet us here.
Put this book down.
Or take it with you.
Leave the room.
Find me.

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