Kapok Tree

Ancient, I stand, canopy bristling with gods,
brined feet buried in bickering river gods.

Cut me down and I am coffin or canoe:
Detours to dances with the gods.

Earth’s center is where I belong, but
find me everywhere, just like the gods.

Giant of the rainforest, I am also
humble seed, disguised in the way of gods.

Introduce my fever by its fruit, the
juvenilia of feral, fertile gods,

king of their own ambitions, colonizing,
lionized, always with their own kind. Gods

marrow me, sprout from me foul blossoms.
Neotropical, Amazonian gods

open me to create medicines for
preserving life. No choice, I give to gods

quality fibers to make mattresses,
ream into life vests, rings to float like gods.

Study me as I stretch ten feet per year.
Temptation is to leave your growth to gods,

undermine your core’s ambition. Be as
versatile as my trunk, home for tiny gods

who croak and gambol at raves, sheltered from
x, y, and z: The raging output of gods.

Young, I resist the Precious Twins. Old, I un-
zip their winds and step in, inhabit gods.


Jen Karetnick‘s fourth full-length book is The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, September 2020), an Eric Hoffer Poetry Category Finalist and a Kops-Fetherling Honorable Mention. Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, she has work appearing recently in Barrow Street, The Comstock Review, december, Michigan Quarterly Review, Terrain.org, and elsewhere. Based in Miami, she works as a lifestyle journalist and is the author of four cookbooks, four guidebooks, and more. Find her on Twitter @Kavetchnik and Instagram @JenKaretnick, or see jkaretnick.com

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