Cindy Veach


The practice of protecting oneself against a poison by gradually self-administering non-lethal amounts. Wikipedia

with injection—
with the venom
of diamondback
water moccasin.
move on
to deadlier asps:
           not spirals
           but eclipses for eyes—

black mamba—
           whose mouth, when
           threatening, isn’t pink
           but obsidian—

only then
let the
           caged ampersands
tag you
in the pith
of your hand
or forearm.
how the body
fights back, suffers,
           snakebite is thus
           like lovesickness
           in that each time,
           you’re wrecked
           special and anew—

I met a man,
a farmer,
who bragged
he could fist
an electric fence.
he took me out
to a field, a pasture
of pretty cows,
the live wire
stood before me
           he had hung the room
           with streamers
           of shed skin belonging
           to every snake
           that ever bit him—

each volt a notch
in his belt—
           if you die, you die
           of a bleeding heart—



Quotes (in italics) from “Mithradites of Fond du Lac” by Kent Russell
The Believer Magazine, June 1st, 2013, Issue ninety-nine



Time Traveler

I time travel the three thousand miles to visit my daughter—
where she was born where I last nursed her, my milkiness

pooling at the corners of her mouth, her mouth pressed
against my breast. On her porch, with its jumble of flowers

and bees, one hummingbird standing still in mid-air,
she talks about when she’ll start trying—I watch her head

crown in the late afternoon sun that slants over the sound
reaching like the hands of a clock for the next hour—

how she tumbled free of me and always further westward
though I never imagined she’d return to where she began

or make a life there. I’m inside out, a sock turned on the wrong
side without its mate. I did not believe it—how fast a child

could leave. Why didn’t I pay more attention? If I’d noticed
how the raspberries by our rickety swing set came and went.



Cindy Veach is the author of Her Kind (CavanKerry Press, forthcoming) and Gloved Against Blood (CavanKerry Press), named a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and a ‘Must Read’ by The Massachusetts Center for the Book. Her poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day Series, AGNI, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Michigan Quarterly Review and elsewhere. She received the 2019 Phillip Booth Poetry Prize and the 2018 Samuel Allen Washington Prize. Cindy is co-poetry editor of Mom Egg Review.