baby, make like a tree


want to

stick my fingers

between all of your leaves

i want to run my hands

over your knots; step my bare feet onto

your roots; sink against your trunk  and

scratch my knees on the rough of your bark

i want to taste your sap; get to know your owls

i want to know who has climbed you and how high

and where each of your seedlings has blown

a twist on the myth: i’m not running from anything

i want to be turned into a tree beside you and never die

our limbs intertwined, have you grow around me

a staring




with no eyes



Pocket Meditation

I am a little girl

kicking suns

I am an old woman

sitting in a pool of laughs

I am the sun

coming up every day

to harden your heart


There’s a call to arms

in all our red glass mouths

white hot dripping glass

blown by some kind of

angelic thing



in the shape of

a call to arms

in all our red glass mouths


Sometimes mothers don’t love their children


Sometimes the sun is not here to warm us


Sometimes you kick whatever you can


Sometimes you find a warm seed

inside your chest glowing

brighter each time you kick


Sometimes you remember

our mothers felt us all kick

and they glowed.





the thing about women and clubbing is

the thing about dancing in a circle


the fire is where everything starts

the thing about war is

sometimes your shoe is a weapon


the thing is

about women

is that you can’t even go to the grocery store

without having to defend yourself in some way

the thing is

you don’t even notice anymore

it’s not like being clubbed over the head

the thing is

it is



she set sail with seven men

a famously stormy channel

the sailboat is still missing

no survivor or plank of wood

has ever been found

the robe burned across her callused palms

each fiber a stinging knife

she thinks only that

she should have said all of me

when asked

she should have said


it takes a big mouth to swallow a sailboat whole

when the boat capsized

she didn’t scream

she didn’t pray

she only held the rope

and burned



my heart hurts.

in tide pools

my creatures

collect gold rings

and copper pennies

sunglasses, cellphones

heartbreaks, wishes

piles of treasure and failure

hoarded in a dripping cave


i deserve everything that comes to me.



  • by joanna kurimsky
  • “girls” was just published in the November 2018 issue of CatheXis Northwest Press. Yay! If you go to their website, you can listen to a recording of me reading it. https://www.cathexisnorthwestpress.com/girls/
  • Also, please do yourself a favor & check out the other poems in the issue.  Amazing work!  I really liked “Home Address; Party Girl” by Jaclyn Desforges and “My Dentist’s Take on Brett Kavanaugh” Brittany Leitner.

Amateur Naturalist

Summer made shrines of

Beetles in boxes

Dad encouraged close observation

The other kids killed ants

I killed ants too, for a while

Dad explained, they could be tortured

Like any one of us


Tears are sometimes placed too carefully

To be caught

Upon close observation

They seem to sparkle

Just a little too brilliantly

To linger a little too long on

Lashes or cheeks


Tears are supposed to dry

And disappear

Not hold fast, as if glued

So everyone gets to see them

Glistening, just so

Like the iridescent under-wing

Of a tiny insect observed 

Under glass


  • joanna kurimsky, 9/27/18

Something Just Died in the Forest

Well it wasn’t a forest, it was a patch of weeds banking a creek at the end of the street, a rusty brown creek, home to snapping turtles with an ancient judgemental eye, it wasn’t so much unidentifiable; it was unmentionable, untalked about.  It was adolescent, there was ice in winter, no one ever fell through though, we were told a million times to stay off, there were summer games of tag, reeds made good cover, lots of sweat and chasing, we foraged for treasure from the garbage behind the catholic church, a whole chandelier once, apparently broken, but all the pieces like diamonds – baubles and prisms, we stuffed our pockets with glittering pod shaped crystals, kept them hidden in fear of finding out what we were doing counted as stealing.  And the bottle of hot pink spray paint, origin unknown but clearly suspicious, even then, used to spray tree stumps, leaves, rocks, some poor spider. Making our hideout garish and loud – it was supposed to be secret, invisible from the street. The bright paint, that’s what attracted the interlopers, the older boys. I never saw them but they left things – cigarette butts, a dirty magazine, which we laughed at, screamed with laughter, no one got rid of it though, and it was there when I went back alone. I looked at it for a long time, all the pages, I even read the letters.  When I was finished, I knew, that was it. No more manhunt strategy sessions at dusk, or lying side by side in the grass dreaming summer, or snow, anymore. Something new was in the weeds now, and we couldn’t play with it, or around it, or pretend it wasn’t there. I don’t remember what happened to the magazine, maybe I got rid of it, stuffed it deep into the trash can we usually mined for good stuff. It seems like something I would do. That righteous feeling, once I’d had my time – furtive, wild, unrestrained, and then hidden from view. And a loneliness so profound it seeped into the slick pages like rainwater, made them swell.  


  • joanna kurimsky, 8.8.18


Of all your endearing qualities

Deep in the sides of mountains

Covered in dust

Your kindness glints.

A passing illumination

Almost missed by my fine brush

Gently moving aside a layer of sentiment

Wielded by someone whose hands

Feel too clumsy for the delicate job

Of uncovering you.

But slowly and with great concentration

There emerges the shape of a self, extracted

Quartz pointing at your finest traits

Prisms of personality

Veins carrying evidence

Of all the times you were tender

When you didn’t have to be.


– joanna kurimsky, 9.20.18

all the cool stuff that happens

all the cool stuff that happens

to other people when they do drugs

doesn’t happen to me

i don’t have any good stories

my stories are like

once I laid wrapped around some boy

while he ate a whole bag of Doritos

we were the cutest spoons but

I’m not sure he even knew i was there

we were on acid or i was anyway

i had found it on the couch between the cushions

in a little fairy sized plastic bag

i remember

someone saying

tonight will be different


they were trying to keep their love invisible

(because some of them were in love)

(and some of them were invisible)

my body made everyone less angry than usual


i can still feel the triangle of glass in my knee

from when i was 7 and fell on the sidewalk

on the way home from school

under me

the creek rushed on

full of possibilities and reeds and garbage


the kid who lived across the street slammed his bike into me so hard

that, concussed, i had to remain in bed for 24 hours

my dad took those orders and built me a bed on the back porch

so i could still be outside in the fresh air and the sun

with all the other kids


life is hard

i want to be soft


no amount of modern-day witchcraft will work

against this tangled constellation inside
i used to remember everything.




  • joanna kurimsky, 2015
  • from my chapbook, crystals + telephone poles



now you, with your sunset hairline

over the ocean of your face

asking “what is your favorite color?”

i have two, orange and grey

and i like them even better together


what a horizon there is in you

shocking the sky

so much

that the waves turn up marigolds

all along the shoreline


you say, “you can eat them, you know.”

i pick up gold blooms i find


alongside clam shells

and throw them back into the sea


  • joanna kurimsky
  • this is an older one from my chapbook, crystals + telephone poles