Heather Derr-Smith
| poetry


It was like dying. Or terror falling from the skies in Guernica.

Or the yearning of prisoners, how she fell out

of herself, sometimes, forgetting

her name. The feeling was worst when she wanted to be loved

by her origins, mother and brother, the whole congregation who

called her like some claim, or


speaking her out of her own form, and into their mouths like

traps. Shut up


she said, shut up. You’re in Dubrovnik. 

I can’t hear you.


She went into the woods. The butcher bird

fixing its prey upon a thorn

another on a forked branch.

So many dead bees under a tree

where the butcher birds had dropped them,

just a waste of violence for its own sake, a kind of


It was not always kind to know another,

how knowing could seal someone’s self to itself, immoveable,

unable to


Heather Derr-Smith is the author of four collections of poetry: Each End of the World (Main Street Rag Press, 2005), The Bride Minaret (University of Akron Press, 2008), Tongue Screw (Spark Wheel Press, 2016), and most recently Thrust, winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award, published by Persea Books in 2017. She is also managing Director of Cuvaj se, a literary and human rights NGO supporting writers in conflict zones and post-conflict zones.

Gone Bowling
To the Tune of “Sand Washing the Stream”