KT Herr

why are my hands wet

Content Note: This audiopoem is a ritual meditating on the internal expression of trauma activation; please exercise care in listening and reading, particularly if you have experienced trauma, PTSD, sexual assault or self-harm.

                                                                  the tears.                                                                                                                                              where did the tears come from? the eyes.
                                the blood.
where did the blood come from? an opening.                 the ducts.   what wrings the ducts?
                                                                         the dishes.
what made the wound? the knife.                                  
                                                                                                                 where is the grief now? pickled.
             where is the knife now? clean, in the dish rack.
    where is the wound? top of the thigh.
                                                                                                                 what made the chest tight? the heart.
what does the thigh want? to be touched.                                               
            what does the thigh want? to be touched.
                                                                                                                  what made the chest tight? grief.
                                                                                                                             what made the grief?

            what does the thigh want? to never be touched.

                                                                                                                             how does relief come? pickled.

where is the knife now? the drawer.
            what does the drawer want? an opening.           
                                                                                                                 how does relief come? clean, in the dish rack.
  what made the hands clench?
                        what made the grief?
                                                                                                 where is the wound? hidden.     where is the wound?

the eyes.    where do the eyes go? my hands.                                  
                                                                                                what does the thigh want? an opening.
                                                                                                                     what made the grief?

    how does relief come? the knife.
           how does the heart come?
                                                                    the blood.
                                                                                                  where is the knife now? my hands.
                                                                                                                           what does the heart want? an opening.

        where do i go now? grief.                                          where do i go now? an opening.
                           where do i go now? my hands.                            where do i go now? to be touched.


Ars poetica as / Self-portrait as / Late Heavy Bombardment1

consider the picaresque of one woman (told to another woman told to another woman told to another)
                                                                                                                       whose mind traps her in a room for hours
                      at a time—lost to reason / she’s back
                                                                                                              at the cataclysm / fragile crust caving
                           under each concussion

                                                                                               as I / too / have been tumbling back—
          down into that same old crater
                                                                                                    with my sample jars / this incessant arm
of curiosity / scraping at hoary lunar soil
                                                                                                                    for buried memory / I’m hankering

     to know how we’re propelled                       
                                                                                                   / can’t stop searching for some engine / a ballistics
thru the firmament / to twin these tiny motors
                                                                                                    of my fears / which rumble at the limits of my senses
   like starships on unseen screens—

                                                                                                    where nothing grows / I’m tempted to believe
in stasis / not the wheeling gyration of bodies
                                                                                                                   I can still call / heaven / though I know it as
                     / up / or / around / ––
                                                                                                                                        a hollow myth––     
                         last night / I dreamt again of
                                                                                                                    being entered in darkness / roving under
my bombarded skin / & there I froze
                                                                                                again / my dream screams soundless as space—
                           scrabbling out of sleep
                                                                                                                      I’m ravenous / fumbling for any theory
    to sate my evidence / tonguing at mined shards
                                                                                                                 from a mind knocked loose as teeth—

        I wonder how any of us consent to
                                                                                                 say: keep loving / knowing the next impact could
                  come at any time / like this:

                                                                                                                   —suddenly young again / at the shore—
              I tire / of playing catch / with a partner
                                                                                                       but covet the ball itself / a small red
 satellite / I can raise / aloft in one hand /
                                                                                                               slam / over & over
                                  against soft / white sand

                                                                                                                     where the wallowing tide slacks &               
                   shaved clean of kicked phosphorescence
                                                                                                               longs to become high
                                         / sky-slaked & violent with stars

1 Also known as the lunar cataclysm; a theoretical spike in asteroid collisions with planets and moons of the inner solar system hypothesized to have occurred roughly 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago. Experts remain divided as to whether there is enough evidence to conclusively prove a heightened incidence of damaging impacts.


KT Herr (they/she) is a queer poet, songwriter, and curious person with an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. KT has received creative support from G.L.E.A. and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Currently, they are a board member with Four Way Books and an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor PhD Fellow in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston. Their recent work appears or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Frontier, Barrow Street 4×2, and elsewhere.