To Find the Queen, You Must Kill Animal-You

Robert Campbell


by a cold hand     by a silver spool of thread     stretched over miles of caves    was there a door      a garden gate     how did we escape the empire     hour of poison    when amanita spores travel on a song     we came here to find a secret name     hidden from the empire     the Queen became dark light      and white-haired root     tunnelling black air     eating worms     the Queen is phosphorescing in the nucleus     hour of fester and fern     by starlight     the Queen picks burrs from her monsoon     of jet-black hair     by deadnettle flowers     beside the pond     a trail of glowing fungi lit the path     beneath the water     we pulled the password     from a wound     killing animal-me and animal-you     digging graves for acorns     hour of radishes     blisterwort     skullcap     vigil of limestone     the Queen is sharpening     her bones     thinking of the empire     sipping venom



Robert Campbell is the author of the chapbook In the Herald of Improbable Misfortunes (Etchings Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, and many other journals. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Murray State University and an M.S. in Library Science from the University of Kentucky. Read more about him at