Kelsey Bryan-Zwick

Your Mouth is a Cutting Board — Mine is a Knife

My sister is a teacup with
shark teeth brewing, my niece
is a squid, a helicopter, a castle
a pink bear puppet on her hand

My best friend is a pelican
my best friend is a watermelon
my best friend slices the bread

I can’t read braille
but it feels right
to the touch

The way your mouth
opens and closes
your eyes blink, your
nose scrunches

My father is a suitcase
full of technicolor photographs

My brother once ate my birthday cake
and that really made me cry

I can tell my rabbit
doesn’t like me, but likes
when I let him loose
in the grass, scratches a bit
when it’s time to put him
back in his hutch

The fish tank is full of piranha
well— two of them, and as they eat
the other fish, I stare at their
wide jutted, thorn toothed grins

Grasshopper on the branch
startles the pants out of me
and when I see the worm
in the soil, fat vein, I’m always
sure that I’ve struck oil

You’ll know when I’ve been an ocean
if there is still sand on my tongue
pull me from the waters— a broken wave
pockets full of crab claws, clam
shell, kelp in my hair

Remember you can drown a rose
in fresh water— but I am not a rose


A Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee, Kelsey Bryan-Zwick is a Spanish/English speaking poet from Long Beach, California.  Disabled with scoliosis from a young age, her poems often focus on trauma, giving heart to the antiseptic language of hospital intake forms.  Author of Watermarked (Sadie Girl Press) and founder of the micro-press BindYourOwnBooks, Kelsey’s poems appear in petrichor, Cholla Needles, Rise Up Review, Right Hand Pointing, Redshift, and Making Up, a Picture Show Press anthology.  Writing towards her new title, Here Go the Knives, find her at