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Michelle Bitting has work forthcoming or published in Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Narrative, Crab Orchard Review, Passages North, Many Mountains Moving, Rattle, Linebreak, and others.  Poems have appeared on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. In 2007, Thomas Lux chose her full-length manuscript, Good Friday Kiss, as the winner of the DeNovo First Book Award and C & R Press published it in 2008. She is a candidate for an MFA in Poetry at Pacific University, Oregon. Visit her at:


Let our love be asymmetrical. Let it tilt
on its axis, curved in shadow, carved in light.
Let the apple bob and right itself, expose
bruised then brighter sides. Let us not
be wedded to belief in inertia—know
the marriage spins and shifts. Hear how
the heart grinding silent gears, steers
love’s fat planet towards unnamed planes
while we slumber on. If we wake
one season behind, and a syzygy of moon,
lake, mantle, makes us crazy,
makes the forest a maze, let us know
there are still fish in the river, my veins’
dark oil, your mouth’s red flame—a sky
of lopsided stars to light our way home.

previously published in “The Smoking Poet”

Robertson Boulevard Onramp

First a spark, then flames of floral consensus.
We’re a patch on a hill under a freeway

with enough mineral seepage to start a yellow riot.
A thousand button heads bowed beneath

the concrete proscenium—roar of idling engines
and the screech-hiss-honk we’ve come to hear

as applause. Just look at those cars lining up.
Eyes cast on us not the road. We’re candy

for the weary and ground-trodden, lemony pearls
at the city’s soot-stained feet. In the quotidian

straits of rush hour, where boulderday meets
bouldernight, we dash the blues with our siren

show, landscape boosting your nerves
for the long drive home. No need to thank us;

we thrive on simple gifts. Bouquet to the world
of sun-stung blossoms, our own standing ovation.

previously published in “Linebreak” 

Strange Flesh

After the good doctor finished suturing my gums—
periodontal deus, ex-machina of scalpel, 
thread, a trapdoor flap of cadaver flesh
stitched to the eroded ridge of my incisors, 
he paused. As if to let me ponder
and consider the foreign meat
he’d just served
to the upper room of my mouth—
jellied tidbit, a red membrane morsel
some kind donor pledged
before exiting this life.

I said nothing. Spit the last mucous stream
into his paper cup, my tongue
finally at rest in its numb cheek tomb.
What was there to say? Hadn’t I
been taught to taste the blood,
eat the body of an unknown brother?
And to what purpose
if not for mystery, 
for human communion
with every sister
roaming this frail and fallen planet?

Here’s to you, nameless one,
for inking the little O
on your DMV form,
for prettying up my smile,
giving me a sturdier bite.
We’re family now.
May the words of my mouth
be worthy of your end,
your great gingival sacrifice.
Asleep in the earth
chewing dust,
or at sea, drunk
on the watery abyss,
may you decay
in all the right places
and be glad
as I am, for the feeding.

previously published in “Passages North”


Poet Michelle Bitting



© 2009 Michelle Bitting

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