The following works were written as a collaboration between Fish and Shushan. They are selections from an unpublished collection entitled The Chatter of Birds.


old paint for spring

the girl walks into her backyard
she hasn’t washed her hair
because it smells like pollen and she
is hoping to attract secret bees
to come live in it

bees to dive into brushes filled
with pollen
dust and spices
rum and rusted things

strange bees who love
an old car and washing machines in the back yard
a dresser that is used for potting plants
with paint flecking off
white flecks on green grass
and a bathtub for taking baths under the stars
flaking paint on old wood
unwashed hair
perfect nests for strange bees
stranger than vines
strangers in vines
she has no shame anymore

limestone roads
and tupelo honey

the girl steps onto the road
with white and powdery steps
she carries a bow and arrows
to shoot reasons
she has no use for them anymore
only bees and honey
bears and trees
bees and flowers
the rest are just seeds
saved for spring



it is that rare soft belly
who is always falling
white and smooth
through the emptiness
between every electron
through the emptiness
inside every proton
the fullness of every nothing
the emptiness of every something
who knows
that the nervous touching
of soft bellies
is more important
than being fully understood

we understand
how the cold makes things slow
and this eternity cuddles around us
with a heart like bird wings
beating gently on our skin
when touching things
that eyes cannot see
we are smashing atoms
and moving as sunlight moves
into and through the inch
while inside the inch
this light-thing cuddles
the fullness of a soft belly
and kissing you
is dismantling the universe
one slow particle at a time

i will do what ever
o pretty words
with such strange push and pull
we are like two cosmic bodies
negotiating each others gravity


lions on the beach

darling, there are sand fleas
crawling up my skirt. sharp pricks
like pins in a ladybug.


they crawl into our open
mouths when we smile
to live in the shadows
where kisses begin.
they eat metaphors
for sheep to count
stars and toes.
and when we kiss
they become lions
who breathe sweet fire
into tongues.

I knew she was a princess
because her mouth tasted
like absinthe and wine.

I knew she was a princess
because her lips became sparklers
falling on white thighs

when I held my breath

And I knew we were alive
when our lips turned black
and stuck together
like licorice whips
in the sun.


they would crucify us

they would crucify us
alone in the night
when the stars are hidden

on evergreens

to bottle our sap
for perfume
to make dinosaurs
with our blood

i screamed
like a lion
into her mouth
where the safe was warm
with hands crabbed into the sand
clutched, touched, and coming
into a castle
out to the sea

we were uncorking the whale
and letting metaphors out

spending our shells wisely
thank goat
we used littlenecks to change
shoals into towers
and beneath we made
ourselves a keep
filled with companies
of lobsters and snails

we’ll send them out as spies
if the need should arise
but now let us eat
kelp spaghetti
simmered in squid ink wine

lie back on that jellyfish
put your feet up
on this sleeping turtle
and rest
is fine.


Vanessa Kittle (Shushan) is 35. She lives out on Long Island with her evil kitten, Sombrero. A former chef and lawyer, Vanessa is now an English composition professor. She published 2 collections of poetry in 2006: a chapbook called Apart, and a full-length book called Surviving the Days of the Empire, both with The March Street Press. Her work has recently been in The New Renaissance, Nerve Cowboy, Limestone, Ibbetson Street, and A Generation Defining Itself anthology. Vanessa edits Abramelin, the Journal of Poetry and Magick.

Fish and Shushan are an astronaut with a guitar and her ‘I like girls a lot’ music and… a flower growing quietly from the wall. there are also trees and inappropriate thoughts!

Fish is trying to learn the chords for Stockton Gala Days while perfecting the art of charming bees out of their honey.

Shushan buzzes in and out of material space with the electric hum of honeybee wings. She also likes to paint.