Back to Issue Forty-Seven

Inheritance at Corresponding Periods of Life, at Corresponding Seasons of the Year, as Limited by Sex



Some species mate, then decapitate.
Some frogs never reproduce the same
place twice. Some species film with
fancy cameras their fucking. My father
said my mother requested one night
to be whipped by strangers. No species
lack pleasure receptors in their ears.
Some bees use sex as revenge, some
as memory. Fell ponies never uncouple.
Some sharks orgasm with their eyes
so can never trust their seeing. My father
said I can’t do it, sent my brother inside
the porn store to buy what my mother
wanted. Some call out to a god, others
to excrement. I am not making equivalencies.
Finches sing to seduce. Ornithologists
theorize the same song also eulogizes
if produced in a tree hollow. That this is
not the saddest fact in all of zoology is
zoology’s saddest fact. Unprompted,
my mother told me she loved my father
like a brother. Some mate for safety, to avoid
sadness, to self-flagellate. Some say there,
there as if pushing on a bruise. After
her affairs, my father forgave his wife.
For all species, desire is the most boring
verb, yet they connive for it most hours.
Some species of snake copulate in hopes
they are another species altogether. Grunion
bury their spawn in sand. My mother said
she would have aborted me, but the clinic
was closed. When whales abandon a grieving
mother, she does not find kindness again.
Some lives are taken down to salt, some to water.
Some species invent facts about the living
to explain the dead. I cannot fathom the bones
I find in the woods posed themselves like this,
though some species of grief find meaning
in minutia, a mechanism for survival. It is hard
to imagine a face for each skull.

James Allen Hall (he/they) is the author of Romantic Comedy (Four Way Books, 2023), selected by Diane Seuss for the Levis Reading Prize. Their first book of poems, Now You’re the Enemy, won awards from the Lambda Literary Foundation, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Their book of personal lyric essays, I Liked You Better Before I Knew You So Well, was published by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Press. With the poet Aaron Smith, they co-host Breaking Form: A Podcast of Poetry and Culture, which can be found online at, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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