we harvest blackened walnut husks for ink, hands stained, and i am blackcap-taken, wing-stolen, air dry
and ceaseless. [ the sun swallows me | i sleep in her hollow lungs, my limbs splayed out in trackless soil. i
think about death until the fey fingers sliding at my flute-throat lift away | i think about death, and i
want to want to live again, and the heat | the heat ] let’s pick apples together, fruit red-skinned and
bruised. if i love you hard enough, will it drive me alive? do you promise? [ the heat touches her mouth
to the inside of my sun-dark knees | i am only one step after another, and there are languages mingled
like ache between my teeth, and i dream of apple-stained tile | i watch you through the webbing of my
star. ] tell me there is a kind ending. tell me the copper in my mouth leeches away, tell me to rise with
bared wings. [ the blackcaps will wait | our hands are stained, and the heat | the heat. ] we pick bright
fruit with careful fingers, slanting glances at the sky, and i ask you to teach me how to sing, and i [ – still-
bleeding, sun-built, open-wounded – ] drop my kitchen knives, and it is still not enough, but i ask for a

Kavi Kshiraj is a queer, Indo-American poet found in New Jersey. They spend time on hobbies such as writing, mythology, and their various identity crises.