Kristin PrevalletKristin Prevallet

WORKING NOTE  by Kristin Prevallet

This poem was composed by combining journal excerpts with news clippings from NASA. Because the images that accompanied these news stories were as provocative as the stories themselves, it made sense to also make collages that combined lines from my poems with the images. The round background image is Mars. This poem is considered to be a Parasite Poem, a term invented by Jack Spicer. I wrote an essay on Spicer’s parasites in "Homage to Creeley" for Jacket magazine ( which relates to my current poetic project. This project involves finding sources that my poems feed off of, gain shape from, or grow from. Since the sources themselves are crucial to the development of the poem I cite them in full, rather than disguising them in poetic language. I do not want the poems (the parasites) to take over and control the movement, tone, or direction of the larger composition. The sources are there to make sure that this does not happen. If it does then the parasites (the poems) win and the composition as a whole is nothing more than a mutation, a false resemblance of all the sources that contributed to its creation




We were outside the path of totality
but total, were an egg
out there beyond the egg
we made our way
we were dawn
to the night
were a cup
to the constellation
a blade, we were
meteor we were
collision crashed
total not one with
infinity but broken by
whatever forever could mean

The disappearance of the 125 million dollar Climate Orbiter comes six years
after NASA lost a billion-dollar spacecraft just as it was reaching Mars.

We are vitro
we have snakes
for incisors
and linen that covers
sunrises and prominent
we are prominent
the eye was the sun
prominent was the sun
and your eye we were
seen by daylight,
crouching in the wind
and the tongued heat flared
into balls of flame.

A single sloe berry was found with the remains of the Iceman.
was our lust
A flame like a tongue of hot, dense gas riding through the corona.

I was round
was sunbound
thick with wonder
how it smelled, how meteor
was the meteor, how constellation
the constellation
we were there,
every August
we proposed,
we declared
we were total
were in love
we were even
wondering why
we were upright
with the sky
we prophesied
it was over
we danced
and made lark noises
and danced again
in totality, beyond total
we were wondering
was it real?

Totality is longest where we’ll be observing it
said the fish
to the fish said she
who was dying, was dead
were the words
spoken not, not
spoken, not against
not total
how it was how
down and down
the ring fell
upon her finger
she slowed down
to fall
until her breath
was an eclipse
of love long
lost, longing
for love was
a half-mooned eclipse.
Life can exist in the most extreme conditions on earth.
What was the morning when misted,
a thick descent of fireflies and birds,
the time of arrivals was delayed
and still there was no water.
I was a loon crossing oceans,
was all there was left
of love. So say the Martians
who speak in pings of
loving, ice beneath the surface
means no one drinks the water
there is no watering hole
if the sparrows cannot drink.
The universe seems to be younger than some of the stars in it
I was awash with morning
dew, my own sickly wash
and knew too
that there was no wash
like the wash of
rain over a dirty
windshield, driving
in the rain was a wash, can
wash, me wash we
were wet with washing,
the sound of soap
bubbles over dirty
skin. Open the windows
and the bird flies away.
A dog yelps
in a little backyard closed off
from every single tree.
Will you come to my wedding
in a red dress
will you drink the punch
and then punch
me out?
It will look for ice below the surface and for any evidence in the surface layers of climate change.
Will whatever
happens be allowed to happen
will you be remembered
will you fall and sink
the boat? There are no pitfalls
into which you and I
are climbing.
I have the ropes tied
between two poles
but have no idea
about the direction
of the sun.
Cryophiles microbial extremophiles love extreme, cold conditions like the Siberian permafrost
Things are found
at the bottom of the lake
that happened
in another century.
Let go of whatever
was stopping you from being
permanently in love.
The three-year mission costs $204 million.
All is, and will be, all right.
There were birds hiding
behind their beaks
and an enormous field
of horseflies. Those apocalyptic angels
who wreak havoc on crops
and bakers. From there it was
a plain story. One that did not lack
in wheat. A baby bird
hesitates at the tar. Walks
upon it and is stuck. Suffocated
and gooey because her wings
had not yet developed.
Set out in tar with broken
wings and be certain the night
will drown you. Have a heart,
then drop it in tar. Watch
the bird shit hit the window like rain.


We Are CellsWE ARE cells encouraged to grow in the shape of a damaged heart

WE ARE the corona mass ejections that spit fire from the rim of the sun, disrupting power grids on earth and threatening astronauts in flight

WE ARE muon detectors and our job is to stop the moon from casting moving shadows in its voyage over the night sky.

WE ARE sewage gushing from a maintenance hole in a 2,100-acre recreation area corralled before we reached the Los Angeles River, a nearby golf course and a popular Japanese garden where two weddings were scheduled.

We Are SpidersWE ARE life happily existing in scalding hot geothermal vents, Antarctic ice, and even inside a nuclear reactor

WE ARE the cows whose eggs are being fused with human embryos

WE ARE the spiders who killed the venom milker

WE ARE 'vampire stars' which feed off their neighbors by dragging matter through space

WE ARE the nuclei, heated to temperatures exceeding 1 trillion degrees in order to recreate the primordial quark-gluon plasma.

WE ARE the primordial quark-gluon plasma, by recreating the conditions under which we were born provides a microcosm of the conditions of the birth of the early universe.

We Are FishWE ARE twenty of the 24 fish species that used to be found in the sea which have disappeared.

WE ARE the most complicated math problem in the world, linking elliptic curves and modular forms.

WE ARE the pings of Mars that the 191 million dollar polar lander failed to record

WE ARE the iceman who ate einkorn, the most important wheat of the Neolithic, before he died 5,000 years ago on a snowy alpine ridge.


BIO: Kristin Prevallet’s most recent chapbook is Selections from the Parasite Poems published by Barque Press ( She has edited and written an introduction for a selection of poems and collages by Helen Adam. She lives in Brooklyn where she teaches composition at Long Island University and poetry in the schools through Teachers and Writers Collaborative.

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