April Naoko Heck, Pt. 1: I ran and ran, the sun dropped and turned/ the water to milk

For each day of National Poetry Month one of our fellows will explore the breadth of poetry in three ways: through a question from another fellow, through a poem and through a writing prompt, #writetoday.


R.A. Villanueva asks, When you look over the poems you write, can you notice patterns? Fascinations and obsessions? What’s the most surprising way those fixations make themselves known in your work?

April Naoko Heck responds with a collage of the instances “milk” appears in her first book, A Nuclear Family (Upset Press).



Three days I have been inside the belly of a whale

here inside a pink hot air balloon, a bellows, a bellowing, a belch,

here swimming salt-stung seawater, krill, ribbons and tongues of oil-slick kelp,

here among tin star glitter of minnows, fanned-fins, fanfare of tails,

here inside the ocean’s mammalian breath, mammoth babe, gentle

killer, the weight of storms surrounding, close as a giant’s fist,

here inside a blue drifting isle,

my escape and hatching from a sinking ship, my sin, my god, can I climb the ladder of ribs

as Osiris climbs his mother’s spine to heaven, can I tumble up

the waterspout, slither and squeeze out a second canal,

rebirthed, spit out of the mothering mouth,

oh mercy, oh me, three days alone with my thirst, a hot throat within a throat



April Naoko Heck’s first collection of poems, A Nuclear Family, was published by UpSet Press in March 2014.