Mackenzie Polonyi



In one version of the story, you inherit acidic rain like genetic instructions.

You are a thatched roof enveiling a loam house within a feverish villineage.
It may be your biological defenses are kindling inflorescences of healthy tissue.
It may be your biological defenses are mistaking reed spears for wasp, crow, rat, and spider nests.
The tears of the sky get uprooted like species of orchard weed by gravity-strong fingers.
The tears of the sky slope up a thatched roof spoon-silver like spittle or linen or a bed.
The tears of the sky puddle into platters that incandescent angel-faced common ravens dance slow then fresh in.

Soon, you will crave the arrival of winter.


At noon, in another version of the story, you are a translucent girl burning with the karst wolf of a virus.
Katicabogarak drink from lakes of melting mirrors while you sleep like a rocking horse.

You are a metronome knocking on the door of an adobe house.
You step accidentally into a platter of rain water.
The platter of rain water is a loaf of sweet bread.
The loaf of sweet bread is a buttercream drum cake.
The buttercream drum cake is a dunghill.
The dunghill, a cemetary.
The cemetary, a cry.

You tumble over and over and over into a wound with a voice like a season.
In a wound bridging another wound, you are a dream kissed inward against the wet-dry years of an older dream.
Tissue mouths sonorous storms into tissue.
Nest mouths treacherous music into nest.
At point of contact by wind, your living and dead branches brush against, pressure into, bond, then pleach.

In wound time, one story like an earth casts its sun-bloodied shadow on the moon of another story.
Say syzygy backwards.
Say mézeskalácssütés.


In an alternative version of the story, a physician has forsaken your body in the forest of the word mystery.
There, you desiccate and shrink amidst lianas like ancient snakes.
Then, you hear a voice like vermillion ice in your right ear say the word miracle instead.
Sprouting out from your back, between your shoulder blades, is a pantograph.
Mother tongue is electrical power.


In the last version of the story, you are cradled like a cave in the palm of death on a yellow tram line.
You become pyretic from temperature dysregulation.
You vomit aragonite and flowers of iron yet you are still unbelievable.

A single raven-faced uncommon angel places a kiss of frozen water upon your forehead.
Vision is a swirl of poppy seed in milk.

Sewing needles feather and fishbone stitch your extremeties.
You are hypotensive, hypoglycemic, pissing protein.
Your knuckles violet like ash.
Your nickname is corpse-hands!
Yet you are still unbelievable.

You say: my bones are burning acidic, grating like crows, throbbing like a sky, swelling like a shadow, grinding
like music, lightning is shooting and stretching and thistle-stinging all over the meadow of my frame, strong
weed taproots are squeezing and bruising like constricting ancient snakes, my bones are being gobbled up by a
wolf, ground by a pestle into hot sand, transposing themselves like musical keys, there is traffic in my bones,
each vehicle a blaring tooth, I am made of bark, believe me.

A physician, in response, points a finger: storyteller!

You regurgitate a skeleton key.
Its bow—proof—is shaped like a hoof.




In my grandmother’s inclement dreams, she began
grinding her teeth, bedwetting. An increase of acetylcholine:
sister-in-blood sisters-in-law became subterranean, ectothermic,
gnawing on roots & seedlings & sprouts
like a phlegm of garden
slugs. Her dead: invertebrates, blisters, tongues, rain-
risen, laying eggs. In the cellar, her mother’s rage writhing
(terrestrial lateral undulation)
in salt. To keep it fresh,
I heard my great-grandmother preserved
the cup from which her husband poisoned himself
with photographic chemicals after partitioned
loss & the violin
he disemboweled with a bow,
gushing the guts of rusting songs. An alimentary canal,
her rage is seven meters long stretched out. A garden hose,
from the house of her rage, my grandmother’s rage
a water snake she was un-
snarling. My rage, pressurized vomit, cuspid
sharp. An animal I no longer want
to incubate. The truth:
I was going broody once, birthing untranslatable storms, pecking aggressively at
my own skin, raising up gooseflesh nests. It is in our blood—displacement—to harm
ourselves by mistake in the absence of patriarchs making
half-orphans of suckling
litters, spitting out irradiated milk
from the snakebites of our mothers’ breasts, this prescription
a myth, a dangerous myth. I was
never their whistle-disciplined girl. In my lineage,
girl is a title at which we let vultures pick, metabolize
in gastric battery acid. We are sanguivorous ghost-hounds sharing
a syrinx, so hungry not even ecliptic
noshing of plasmatic & satellitic celestial bodies can fill
our salival stomachs. In other words, we are
one third fork-tongued conspicuous song-
bird, one third beyond-the-forest order Chiroptera
with social microbiomes, one third phantom-branched human-
without-human-character, so far from
knowing the meaning of home, wings abscise feathers by resorption.
We become remige-translucent first,
thermoreceptors on our noses locating pulses
our friction-ridged fingers will never
reach, like waltz-time-light-speed.



Mackenzie Polonyi is a Pushcart-Prize-nominated Hungarian-American poet and the author of Post-volcanic Folk Tales, a National Poetry Series 2023 winner, forthcoming by Akashic Books 2024. Her published work may be found or is forthcoming in Barrelhouse Magazine, Crab Creek Review, Palette Poetry, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Tupelo Press, Quarterly West, where she was a finalist for their 2022 Poetry Contest, and elsewhere; furthermore, she was A Public Space 2023 Writing Fellowship finalist. Mackenzie is a Cornell University 2022 MFA Poetry Graduate, Lecturer, and 2021 Robert Chasen Memorial Poetry Prize winner.