Untitled by Judson Michael Agla; for more information, visit

Excerpts from Guidance from the God of Seahorses

by Keats Conley

The God of Eyelash Mites

The eye line’s a nursery. Motherland of ecoparasites, a.k.a. face-feasters. Here’s a face-off of factoids: 1. the face is the individual’s most distinguishing feature; 2. the face is crowded as a farmer’s market. A larva on every tenth lash crosses one earlobe-length an hour. To conveners in the town square of dark circles: may you chase all your tears with sebum. Pave periorbital hardscapes.

The God of Tardigrades

If I made you in my own image, it was before my morning coffee and concealer. You’re cute in a certain light, moss piglet—maybe incandescent with eyelids closed. You’re a slow stepper but a long stander. Five mass extinctions and some half billion years can’t rob the chunk from all eight of your micro-thighs. Sometimes curling into a cryptobiotic fetal position is the precise response to a supernova. In the face of boiling oceans, order a catnap. Sometimes the solution is the snooze button. In the vacuum of space, let your stumpy legs applaud.

The God of Centipedes

I gave not just with two hands but with one hundred. Or ninety-nine. I prefer to sculpt segments in odds. Don’t worry about the schism between hands and feet: both can be joined in prayer. Immerse yourself into soil like a loam baptism. Hatch and devour your mother as sacrament-meal. If there is reincarnation, it’s this: grow from your mother’s fodder. Let your legs labor legs. Become a new, soft body. We grow by leaving our skeletons behind.

About Keats Conley

Keats Conley is a research biologist for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in Southeastern Idaho, where she works on salmon recovery. She enjoys writing poetry as a means of bridging the seeming divide between science and art. Her most recent work is forthcoming in The Curlew and Postcard Poems and Prose.

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