Avatar Review Index


Rachel Dacus

Rachel Dacus' first poetry collection, Earth Lessons, was published in 1998 by Bellowing Ark Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in many print and online magazines, most recently: The Alsop Review, The Bitter Oleander, Conspire Coracle, Melic Review, Spillway, and Switched-On Gutenberg. She lives with her architect husband and a small band of Silky Terrierists in Northern California.



A Pot of Humuhumunukunukuapua'a

In a store I saw a one-cup teapot
shaped like a fish I once met
under the waves at Puako Beach.
Short as a thumb, he had a name longer
than the curving shore. Breaker
blue scales and gold fin-to-fin stripe,
startling among the reef knees 3/4 that
and his painted eye under surf
as frothed as kettle-singing water.
I took him home and filled him with leaves
and bubbles. He ruminated until the tea
steeped me dark enough. As he swam away,
I pressed a silver fin to each eye,
lifted my cup and drank
crackling syllables of sea.

© Rachel Dacus


Why Shouldn't I

Seed a few ideas on earth,
curl in a poet's ear to decline
being's ninety-nine verbs
and crystallize sub-atomic
harmonies in a scientist's mind?
Why not tick ecstatic
anthems in rain. No one may be listening,
but I saw a woman look up and decide
to change her state of residence
and begin tap lessons.
Maybe it's my pronunciation.
In a burrow, a wet-nosed birth
coincides with the crumple
of fifteen men shot a continent away.
Symmetry is not a popular language,
though it has occasional charms for artists.
Edicts? Please, you can't get arrested
or away with the word experiment
in reference to destiny. Do they appreciate
how interesting it is to let you surge
into traffic on your own? Discreet symbols --
I've tried computer glitches, solar flares.
Enough of this rough draft. I feel an urge
to crumple and begin inventing, my strange
delight. I have an idea. Why shouldn't I
turn out to be a God you can dance?

© Rachel Dacus


Blood-Cycle Brooding

One more unpeeling of the womb,
close enough to the final time
that I can relish the tiny tearings,
the way muscles unclasp
from what might have been --
One more the shredding of a bed
that waited fruitless seven times seven years
for an egg and dart
to decorate its aching lap.

Once more a blood-gravity descends,
until I am a planet
spinning everything into centripetal stop.
The dropping-down cramp
mimicking birth-pang.
With mouth open delivering
a new poem, breath
heaving and rasping.
And what do I have left
from all those empty moon-circles?

Scraped squeaky clean, the blood-room
has birthed generative words.
They sleep twitching in their cradles
or sun themselves nude on public rocks.
Tribe after diatribe of oaths and chants
spilled from lips too like another portal
that disgorges new bodies.
Yes, in this blood-tide of verbs
I was myself being brought forth,
sieved through a mirror, witched awake
out of the pounding dark.

© Rachel Dacus


Quetzalcoatl

As you leave the bed your rising fluffs
up a feather. The sulky curl
sways overhead as you whisk
a razor down your cheek. I retreat
into dream and wake to find a feather
in your place, floating as the curtain flaps
at the open window. Towns away,
you hover over your drafting board,
the parallel bar singing up and down.
From your pencil extrudes a weightless architecture.
It wavers into the air and joins our parallel rooms,
following us around all day, lifting
us slightly off the ground. We walk
into and out of each other's space
as around the world tendrils come loose
and dangle in front of eyes. They blur
the world of faces, superimposing
them into dimensions, each left slightly ajar.
Time and space grow feathered
and Earth's curve fringes into a wing.
The dense plumage overlaps, exudes
a desert wind scent as a billion feathers
loft and we begin to soar.

© Rachel Dacus


Earth Whale

-- For Jim

The soil surges with elusive tides.
By my apartment an oak dives
head first into a hidden sea
while bird chatter rattles the sky.

The oak sings to me when it pleases.
From its black flanks and branches
come disturbing lullabies
and simple songs of white breezes.
The oak's dismantling sighs

Roar below the city surface
from deep in evolutionary gloom
the depths where fire flowers
and magma pearls bloom.

Oak notes quake the planet
as continents cross its face.
The poles shift in a vast rhythm
of history being erased.

The oak hears beyond time
and dives for song, headlong.
On its tossing tail alight
generations of lives in flight.

© Rachel Dacus