Three Poems by Rachael Inciarte

things you might not know about desert animals

water is not essential and
these creatures have learned to live without
haven’t you wondered why the kookaburra laughs?
because it is better than you

a chuckwalla can sneeze salt
crystals when is the last time
you made anything

and a wallaby births its joey
no bigger than a bean
painless not like when a human
child tears free

the mother keeps three children:
one at her hip
one growing at the teat
one in secret

a seed paused and tucked deep in her belly
just in case because she is desert wise
knows nature is not sweet to the weak
knows we are all so easily replaced

celestial bodies

might be fireflies might be motes
for all their distance
might be the myth that made Copernicus blind
or the truth that named him thief and
caught him reading horoscopes for moonbright
cadavers in Italy

if only sun salutations brought us any                 closer
but our bodies stay in orbit
we are never not
falling into the star
as we are called stars or gods or by no name at all

Copernicus,       rearranging heaven
Copernicus,       dying a heretic
Galileo,                 falling off the edge of the earth
Galileo,                 punished for Copernicus
blinded by what he saw

in the sky they are having a picnic
with sandwiches

on Earth we are burning
the okra shoots


we meter the earth
measure each heave and tremor
not expecting to find that we are rolling
over the belly of a breathing mass
which groans and shudders the way
an old house might cough in the wind

every minute a quake
magnitude 2.5, 1.8, 4.4, 3.9
is it vertigo or can you feel the fissures?
there are so many places where the ground has worn thin
how will you know your tread has become too heavy
until you’ve fallen straight through?

Rachael Inciarte lives in the Southern California desert. She holds an MFA from Emerson College. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Juked, Poetry Northwest, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry and others. Find her at