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Three Sides of the Hunger Moon by Tina Barr


This is the inward moon, no
thing to eat but nandina
berries. The red beads stay on
all winter; each carries a tiny hit
of cyanide. Bluebirds, robins,
mockingbirds, starving, come.
But cedar waxwings, in flocks,
won’t stop, intact berries lodged
in their crops. Insides packed,
so heart, lungs, stomach, run
with blood.


My mother, fourth stage,
lay, my head in her lap. I made
her chocolate cake, fudge; when
the nurse came, I’d rush to the
cafeteria in the local hospital, bring
back lobster rolls for us both. My
sister, I found out, fed her jellied
Campbell’s consommé, canned
fruit cup.


First only green shows
under the brown sheath that peels as
the head drops perpendicular.
The cocoon is pressed in tight
inside; with sun light, a pressure
and the tip shows yellow, emergent,
a bell. Stigma, anther, filament
tucked deep, like a panoramic
Easter egg, but hiding its parts.
As it opens, the corona, a ruffle,
a collar, grows into a cup, then its
tepals flatten back, its trumpet
presses forward, heralds, sets open its
kite: yellow-pink, yellow-white.


Tina Barr’s most recent book, Green Target, won the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and the Brockman-Campbell Award.  Previous books include The Gathering Eye, winner of the Tupelo Press Editor’s Award, and Kaleidoscope.  She’s received fellowships from the NEA, The Tennessee Arts Commission, & the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her poems have been published in The Harvard Review, The Gettysburg Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, American Journal of Poetry, Crosswinds, Brilliant Corners, Barrow Street, North American Review, Mudfish, Tar River Poetry, Poetry South, & elsewhere.



The word “sepia” denotes a colour, but it’s also the name of a genus of sea creatures. The colour sepia is named after the cuttlefish’s ink—a substance that, until the 19th century, was commonly used as an artist’s drawing material. Long before then, it was used as writing ink.

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