The Vital Force

Kim Roberts

We have neither hooked beaks
like rapacious birds,
nor laddered lungs
by which a soul may climb.
No soft sounds to charm our ears
are heard in the silent deep.

We have neither fangs
like greedy wolves,
nor caustic spleen
by which a soul sets chase.
We may follow the threads
that Fortune spins,
but we can’t destroy them.

Stentorious crackles,
tympanic echoes, issue from deep
in the body’s dark grottoes.
We have neither claws
like raging tigers,
nor the petalled liver,
a whorl of bilious burgundy
through which a soul is sluiced.

Either, like the smallest capillary,
the soul is vassal to the overlord heart.
Or the soul travels
the crankish, ornate maze
deep into the sumptuous
grey folds of the motile brain
and there is furnished,
and there is succored.


Kim Roberts is the author of five books, most recently Animal Magnetism, winner of the Pearl Poetry Prize (Pearl Editions, 2011), and the anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC (Plan B Press, 2010). She edits the journal Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and co-edits the web exhibit DC Writers’ Homes. Individual poems of Kim’s have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Mandarin, and she has been a writer-in-residence at fourteen artist colonies across the United States. Kim lives in Washington, DC.



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