A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Zoe Dzunko




Inside of you is the liver.

You swallowed it

with the black cherries,

made a complete

meal of it.

Does the organ 

even know, and how

does it recognize itself

in the deadly process.

Does the flesh quiver

at the thought of

more meat. 

The dying

that makes the miracles

possible: glory glory.

Eating the fattiest parts

of the animal like

the way you’d let ice

become a river beneath

the heat 

of your tongue.

I never owned my body

but I made a home in it 

for you sleep like a balled 

up calf, freezer burn


Dig a hole in the red

dirt, lower the carcass

in. I’m just waiting

to receive you.




Not everything is a mermaid 

that dives into the water, 

so I am becoming a fiction. 

Once we helped each other 

swim and tried to drown 

one another at the same time.

My bikini fell to the floor

of the ocean and marked an x;

made a whalebone reanimate

by force of will. On land I leave

fragments of magic for you

to wish upon, my fallen eyelashes

asleep on your pillow, lipstick ring

kisses so you won’t miss the curl

of my tongue. Can we wash me 

until my outside grows squeaky tight 

again, until I make one leg out

of two? Innocence is a curse:

I just want to comfort everyone

with lipstick on their teeth

and if you brush past me on your

way, I apologize. We sailed

such a long time, only to find

all of the mermaids got their legs.

How am I to beg, and who am I to beg 





If we waited long enough 

we could witness the body

making new parts, growing

new flesh shapes, hungry

like a goldfish to occupy

negative space. Say, please

grow to the plant you killed,

say please rain to desert

skies; nature’s weird trick

is to force division in the

wrong places. The mould

of wet scabs, the sickening

mass of deadly nightshade,

the vines of veins branching

into new blooms on my 

calves. So, you want to talk

about flowers, how knots 

of nothing remarkable bust

their way to beautiful; how

skies sweat on them at dusk?

Just their slow centerpiece 

death, or that they know when

to die? Talk of how the air 

grew ripe at the idea of green,

thick with the rot of sunshine.

The ocean spits up the mess,

leaves it on the shore to dry;

the body of soil, warm enough

to grow explosions. Somehow,

your nose imagined sweetmeat

at the sight of a rose, alone—

some seventeen layers of pink

tongues, licking at the inside 

of your computer screen, 

the menace of beauty, no violets

to shrink into—I am laying out

for the bees, but they never land

when you want them this much.


I’m still holding onto one half of a set of earrings I’ve had since before my ears were pierced: tiny enamel bluebirds in flight. I don’t really like birds that much, and I don’t recall how I came to own them, but I do remember how captivated I was by them as a child. Each night of the school week I would free them from their velvet box and turn them in my palm, watching as the light roused them into a luminous state of animation, longing for the weekend to arrive so that I could finally wear them. Now they just remind me of all the perfect things about childhood—the simplicity and the freedom, the little moments of wonder.


Zoe Dzunko’s work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Guernica, The Age, H_NGM_N, Two Serious Ladies, The Lifted Brow, and Banango Street. She is the author of: All of the Men I Have Never Loved (Dancing Girl Press), Bruise Factory (NAP), and Wet Areas (Maverick Duck Press). She lives and writes in Melbourne, where she is completing a PhD in Creative Writing at Deakin University, and is an Assistant Poetry Editor for Coconut Magazine.