One Poem by Jen Karetnick

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Natural Selection

When Judge Judy says, If you were the trophy
             at the end of my race, I’d walk backwards,

it’s the equivalent of a cold-stunned
             iguana that loses its grip on a live oak

when the temperature drops 40 degrees
             in Miami and lands on a passerby

who’s just taking out her dog or maybe
             a cyclist who is grateful after all

for the helmet that saves him from
             20 pounds of rapidly accelerating

lizard icicle. Confidence bruises
             just like that, the skin of it meeting

some blunt object, a point or two. It doesn’t
             mean that you won’t win. But contracts

aside, the judge wants you to know
             who she’d prefer to see slammed

onto swales, stiff-legged and comatose,
             in some cases never to be revived again

by the future assurance of sun, collected
             to be sold as meat on the dark Web,

an invasive species dealt with
             by a much higher authority than hers.




Jen KaretnickMiami-based poet, writer, and food critic Jen Karetnick’s latest book is the CIPA EVVY winner The Burning Where Breath Used to Be. Her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in APR, Another Chicago Magazine, Crab Creek Review, Notre Dame Review, Ruminate, and elsewhere. See

Read Jen Karetnick’s Letter to America poem appearing in “Mango: An Inheritance with a High Error Rate.”

Header photo by Republica, courtesy Pixabay. is the first online literary journal of place, publishing award-winning literature, art, editorials, and community case studies since 1998.