Mike Smith

Pocket Guide to Another Earth


There is a plant found there whose sprouted seeds,

if swallowed whole, will grow back out of you


until leaves clothe the body entirely.

(The plant’s deciduous, but weather there


is all internal anyway.) Because

weather is all internal anyway,


it takes thirteen willing adults to pro-

create. Argument is a fossil fuel;


the children learn to speak by forgetting

to eat. The people, though they do not trust


in land or sea, no longer use their wings

to fly. Instead, they rub them together


at dusk and dawn. The chirping signals fear

and a willingness to die. It is, by far,


the preferred method of self-expression.

Warning: Their gods visit often, bearing


gifts, which, if swallowed, grow back out of you.

Like us, there is nothing they will not do.