Carolyn DeCarlo 

Champion wants water and ants, fire and wisdom

Champion eats what champion wants
Champion tends to get too loud
Champion speaks of many whispers
Champion breaks the dancehall lights
Champion tells her lies in sevens
Champion never takes a bath
Champion drives too slow on highways
Champion burns her brother’s couch
Champion sleeps with both eyes open
Champion curls her toes in bed
Champion leads a normal life
Champion cuts her teeth on marrow
Champion climbs the tallest trees
Champion keeps her toenails clean
Champion dulls the pain with vodka
Champion lives in careless whispers
Champion runs from town to town
Champion slides behind your memories
Champion wants to be destroyed
Champion forgets to drink her coffee
Champion hides inside the walls
Champion talks to all the animals
Champion winds her body around
Champion beats her drums on Sundays
Champion wears a lot of gold
Champion yells underwater
Champion chops the timber down



Equilibrium of a Rigid Body

Think about the things you like,
like an old brooch or a handful of gemstones,
fresh cut grass between your fingers or
the smell of a flower you picked
in the gardens in Hamilton last summer,
the one you can never remember the name for.

You'll need them all next winter
when your legs grow numb
and you sit at work thinking about degeneration
until you feel like you're rising up out of your body.

Get a glass of water,
close your eyes, and breathe deeply.
Take the time to do this even when others are watching.
Remember the times this has happened to you before, 
walking across campus two years prior
or for the first time, at the end of a run,
back when you were a student yourself.

This will help you keep perspective.
You are not dying.
You are not going to be captured
and put in a wheelchair
like when you were at the airport
and the woman in the United Airlines uniform
told you it was the only way you'd make it to your flight.

Don't have flashbacks to this
or to when you sat cross-legged on Venice Beach for so long
that when you tried to stand your legs had gone numb
from the waist down and you had to crawl on your hands and knees
in the sand thinking, this is what it feels like to be paralysed.

These are normal things, 
they happen to everyone,
so don't worry.
Everyone around you is just as uncomfortable as you are.

Breathe and keep breathing.
Drink water and keep drinking.
Don't go to work when you're in pain.
Working in an office isn't good for your body
and it is important to maintain your health
when your soul feels so light
it might float away one morning
without you even realising it.


The Day the Day

It’s gone.  The day -- 
the day is gone and
I ate it.

I lay
with my chin on the
tile floor, flat
like a heron’s neck
in flight

and I ate the day --
starting with its toes.

You wouldn’t think
but yes.
The day’s toes are
the day’s toes taste like

when you put the tip of your tongue
on the roof of your mouth and
slide it back as far as you can

 -- just before you hit
that hanging sack of skin
lodged in the back of your throat
that’s when you taste the day.

I ate the day because --

Do I need a reason
for swallowing a day?

Should it be allowed
should everyone have instructions
1.    Identify the day. It should be round and old it may look like your father
2.    Get down on your knees and your hands and your stomach and

One day or
one day a year

In that day, I gained an egg
and in that egg I gained a fish
and in that fish I gained a world

I lost it all the second I bit into its bones.



Carolyn DeCarlo has a few chapbooks online and in print. Her next, Spy Valley, is forthcoming from Dirty Chai in Fall 2016. She is trying to find the art of living in Maryland, but you can find her online at

Illustration by Elie Chap