Sept/Oct 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 5 Poetry |

There Are 118 Known Elements

Of which I can name probably fifty. Of course I love a gas that is noble. I was alone at a party when a woman approached and informed me humans are closer in relation to mushrooms than shrimp. Mostly what I remember from high school anatomy is that all organs are beige and look nothing like their colorful textbook renderings. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I hope we are neon on the inside, with an encyclopedia’s worth of elaborate rooms for every mood. It’s all water to vinegar was one of the more confusing things my mother used to say. Others include Everyone dies and Grandma has Alzheimer’s. I’m here now so I’ll call attention to the many thousands of butterflies migrating many thousands of miles to a particular mountain in Mexico. How they do it nobody from science knows, but we can discern the chemical composition of gas clouds in space, so that’s not nothing. Sometimes it’s enough to walk through the many rooms of yourself, dusting the crossed swords above a m

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Photo of Jeff Whitney
Jeff Whitney’s most recent collection, Sixteen Stories, is forthcoming from Flume Press. His recent poems can be found or found soon in The Adroit JournalCherry TreePoetry Northwest, and Reservoir Road Literary Review. Whitney lives in Portland.

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