The Animals, Who Are In Your Mouth

The Animals, Who Are In Your Mouth
Vajra Chandrasekera

You call the dogs, who are not gentle like wolves.
The dogs come running.
Our claws dig long graves in soft earth, throwing up thunderheads
gravid with soil.
When it rains back down, the sky’s blind sand will trace the contours
of your face and drop from your chin while the dogs worry at your feet.
You open your mouth. You spill like oil and fill our pores.
You name the animals. You fold paper into animals.
You oil our feathers and make us flightless
in the warm discontinuity of your mouth.

You call the birds. Not all birds are a product of your pale gaze,
in the hand or burning in the bush.
You bemoan the lost authenticity of the dinosaur while you allow birds
to nest in the soft crevices of your white matter. Let us peck
your eyes clean of night’s crusted honeycomb rheum
and watch it grow back by evening.

You call the bees. Note that the structural solidity of hexagons
comes from the terror of bees, turning in circles
and pushing each other away with equal and opposite force.
The comb is the shape of their mutual alienation,
a vitreous circle of prole jelly.
This is where your honey comes from.
This is a burden that won’t fit in your kipling mouth.

You call the herd, we the unintended, lowing and butting, only held together
by the dogs of your skin and the white fence of your teeth.
We are quick to infection of hoof and mouth, jostling
in the paddock of your ribs.
(Later, you’ll have to break them like a coroner to get us out.)
Our horns grew in, dexterous triple fleming tines, field and motion and current.
The field is green and dirt beneath and beneath the dirt, a gravel of dry bones.
Our hooves know only green, only forward,
Not hearing the crunch in our steps, the clutching undertow
of paper bones in the long graves in the soft earth of your mouth,
that we dug for ourselves.

Vajra Chandrasekera lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka. His poetry has appeared in Ideomancer, Through the Gate and inkscrawl, among others. You can find more work by him at

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