Back to Issue Twenty-Two.

on the theory of descent




He meant, of course, origin. What
strains from what framework of bones.
The form

the giraffe bends
down to the dirt same as the elephant,
binding our foreign, numbered—L4, T7—

weight. And from the war of nature
comes the production
of a higher animal. Say

from the war of nature comes
what we need—
a machine more than man. What mind wouldn’t

want this? Clean tactic, poor boys
of America safe before a screen.
My friend caught, in Jalula,

by an IED, not quite right
still. Who am I, then, to demand
a higher order.

There is grandeur,
Darwin says, in this view of life.
The new technology

that keeps our Global Hawk air-strong
thirty-four long hours. Improving the real
bird’s endurance by a day. So art

plays nature’s second part.
Coiled, darker
than black, the engine resembles

sci-fi’s most gleaming
machinations. Death-helmet, snake
pit, asteroid-flung. O endless forms

most beautiful. It looks ready
for space,
another world.

Over Gaza
men call drones zanana—nagging
wife. Slang imitating sound. How hungry

language becomes. Thy soul was like
a star—They are as gentle as zephyrs,
blowing below the violet—

Her beauty hangs
upon the cheek of night—Always
we want more. Catch up, fiction. We are

already our most gruesome
design. Operators, in their padded
chairs, in low, tan Midwestern

buildings, cannot hear
the buzzing—like
a thousand chainsaws—these new birds

make. Bangana—Pashtu for wasp—
sing us a song we can fall down
into. Sing something decent, something

far off and sweet. We are, we now know,
made from star stuff. Who wouldn’t feel
god-like, so hovering, so composed.


Corey Van Landingham is the author of Antidote, winner of the 2012 Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, her work has appeared in Best American Poetry 2014, Boston Review, Kenyon Review and The New Yorker, among many other places. She is currently a doctoral student in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati and a Book Review Editor for Kenyon Review.

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