Two Poems by Merie Kirby

Notes on geography

We never spoke of weather
in California except in fire season,
hot Santa Ana winds blowing. Or to call
each other outside to see heat lightning
stippling the sky off towards the mountains,
so far away we never heard thunder.
Rain came without fanfare, seasons
marked by subtle shifts in gardens.

Here in North Dakota, we would never
just say that we opened the backdoor to hear
robins singing. We want you to know
it is mid-April, another snowstorm is arriving
just after noon; at 10am it is 29 degrees,
the sun spring-weak but shining, and
after months of only hearing crows,
in the bare-limbed elm nine robins
faced east and sang.


What I share with the crocodile

My own toothed mouth
the safest place
for my child. I file
each tooth with data
& statistics, numbers
sharper than diamonds.
I’ve learned
how to speak
with my mouth full.
To offer refuge
is to go about
with my mouth
always open.


Merie Kirby grew up in California and now lives in North Dakota. She teaches at the University of North Dakota. She is the author of two chapbooks, The Dog Runs On and The Thumbelina Poems. Her poems have been published in Mom Egg Review, Rogue Agent, Orange Blossom Review, FERAL, Strange Horizons, and other journals. You can find her online at