Phrynosoma hernandesi

Greater short-horned lizard

Jake Levine



Greater than regal, shorter than a penguin

I am a lizard, goddammit, and I won’t take your

caesar salad because I am a moral reptile,

not an amphibian, the jerks.


My cousin, the pygmy short-horned lizard

is actually a gypsy named Steven. He is smaller

than me because I am a woman. When I was young

Steven used to steal larvae off my snout

and kick me in my vent. He sold my mother

on a desert trail outside of Sioux Falls

to a bunch of prairie dogs.


It’s very hard to be a woman

sitting and waiting for ants to eat

or the occasional grasshopper and the coyote

I shoot blood out my eyeballs at.


I fell in love with a fox named Justas.

His name sounded foreign, very post-soviet block.

He left me because I shot blood out my eyeballs

at him whenever he tried to feed me to his friends

at his desert rave parties. Did you know

I am a Buddhist? I believe in reincarnation.


At night I scream:

O’ cruel world, let the buzzards eat me, pick my thorns off

my back. Take me away to the other side, where I can come

back as the regal beaver! and I burn incense inside a cave.


That species, the beaver, is rarely described that way. I haven’t

the faintest idea why I love dams

so much more furnished and warm than this damn

Rock, I am pregnant. I will give birth this season

to between 5 and 48 offspring. Rock, this is the place I live

and is also my lover’s name. Sorry for the confusion.

I am a reptile not an amphibian, my name is Susan.

Call on me, Rock, I am so lonely and never that far away.




Jake Levine is a professor of composition at Sejong University. He is a Fulbright Scholar and Poetry Editor at Spork. He loves mammals and cactus fruits and vegetables.