Five Poems

Natasha Kochicheril Moni

human skull
Photo Credit: Matt MacDonald

We speak of water
for Ilya Kaminsky

and he raises

a glass, gestures

with his free

arm as if a water

fowl is being

raised from within

(this is California, Southern)

You must have water

I am filled         I might tell

him of the many

nights I have been dreaming

of Fabergé      how dancing

on eggs    in dream        is more

like floating

how floating     is more

like eating


plucking          feather after (invisible)

feather          from one’s throat

irritates          the esophagus

The truth is

I have been     speaking

to another

who knows     about double

osmosis          He tells me     what

becomes          of fluids

before preserving         before the viewing

about water               after water

where drains                 in morgues


how California            is

the great recycler

The truth is       I don’t know this       yet

The truth is       I am not

thirsty             The truth is


like separating egg             from apricot


The Cardiologist, his daughter cradle a model

skull—they’ve left hearts behind years ago for osteo-

cytes, sutures: sagittal, coronal—

sockets whose purpose is stationary

grace, how to hold what fills

how to balance what adheres.

The Cardiologist, his daughter love to learn

the language of mater: dura,

arachnoid, pia—whisper

the sound CSF

would make if it were

external, how not

rapid but river

one flow sub-



When I Approach my Advisor for Advice on How to Move Forward With Greater Ease After a Bumpy Start of Going Premed in My Thirties, He Performs a Well-Rehearsed Soliloquy

Every year there are those who fall.
He draws me a curve—

epinephrine on the x, performance on the y.
A straight line to the top where some—

he references me—go over.
I imagine the remains,

the class of forty trimmed
extra length in the row below

the Periodic Table, the ease with which
legs stretch in the presence of space.

He has never performed surgery,
never cleaved anything but a hypothetical

student from the breast of Postbacc
status, never attended

himself, but he is an expert
of probability. Vex one student

and observe wilt under scrutiny.
Take three quizzes and don’t call me.

I would bottle it if I could—he speaks
of success, those shy of adrenaline

junkies—I would be rich.
I think of my father with only three

dollars upon immigrating. Practicing in his native
country, the requirement of redoing his residency—

the subsequent years of specializing, cardiology.
My father thinks of me, my advisor thinks.


The Cardiologist’s daughter is concerned

with needles, the thought of what keeps

blood fixed—what accounts
for system failure, a heart spilling—

what blurs on screen
a mitral valve prolapsing.

She learns to mind
adjusts to right side

reduces intake of sugar
caffeine. The cardiologist’s daughter

feels so much, removes
tags from sweaters

will not stand anything approaching
her throat—remembers the time

when D. slapped a bee clear
into her back—the sting

she had never felt
before, nothing

like needle, more like twinge.
The instructor not believing

her calmness, taking
ten minutes to notice

stinger through flesh.
The Cardiologist’s daughter

is complicated. She has a thing
for discovery, keeps a collection

including the bear
claw, countless bones,

something potentially human.
She would have the complete

skeleton, if she could afford—
She has made peace

with weird, has a pink
dot on her i.d., sees

herself on that metal
table while waiting

at checkouts—those tabloids—
so less appealing. Called

morbid, she cannot help
a family that served

obituaries with cornflakes
longer than she has been drinking

her coffee near black.
She fills herself with herself

as a baker would install a pie
with nectarine—there are places

where the color blurs and she forgets
outer for inner. They call

her edgy and she says I am
regardless, concentrated with core.


On an Interview to Rent Space from a Chiropractor,
I Discover a Mutual Admiration for Handling Skulls
for the Benson family

He says I’ll just be
a minute and disappears beyond
the door marked Employees Only.
In the room labeled A, I turn
to the erase board that spells
the definition of something kinetic,
as the doctor returns.

His fingers lace
a human skull. Can’t get these
anymore, he claims and what
others leave, I seize.

How did you? I ask and he tells me
A religious sect in India had no problem
selling these; only problem was people left
their bodies more quickly.

I trace the parietal
suture below my finger. How young, I think
and he responds how neatly ossified, how not old and I try
not to think of family and I think of family as I speak
the tongue of sutures, what seals
bone to bone what breathes if given

He tells me
of his daughter as he wings
open the gates of the teeth, his daughter
pre-med for dentistry, she will inherit
this. It will be necessary.

We close with the orbits—a simple communion, we sip
from their thinness, tip the skull to locate light.

pencilNatasha Kochicheril Moni, a naturopathic medical student, writes and resides in the Pacific Northwest. Her first full-length collection, The Cardiologist’s Daughter, is forthcoming from Two Sylvias Press this Fall 2014. For more information regarding her work or upcoming readings, please visit her website. Email: natashamoni[at]

Four Poems

Natasha Kochicheril Moni

Mormon Metalmark, Apodemia mormo autumnalis
Photo Credit: Bill Bouton

Nightstand Lover of Lepidoptera

Beyond Monarch he commits
species to mind

something like Azure, Metalmark
Fritillary, Dusky Wing

or Luna who for one
day rose

not as insect
but spirit

drifting soap-like
above Sol Duc River

they fell
color of grass

color of herons’ bills

gone diving—
he remembers from lectures

searches for names
cannot place them—

some morning
he will step

out of his head
take a net, find himself

palm over wooden
handle, eyes

above page line
toward possible flight.


There are times when it is best to forget

the mice in the closet, go
ahead and water the cactus

once more, ignore the violet screaming.
Tell your man his dieffenbachia
is dying, that you will steal

it when he isn’t
looking, transplant
and keep it to yourself.

The mice rest
in your storage, a falling-
apart sleeping

bag you meant to toss
becomes their summer
home, the waterline their super-

highway for those nocturnal times
you once absorbed in sleep. Sleep
is nothing. Sleep is for the meek, the violet

says to herself and wishes for a sip
from the cactus
that bathes on a sill too far away.

There are times when you will think
yourself wicked for all the ways you debate
extermination. Arm yourself in bed

with a copy of The New York
Times, even the mice will find
this threatening as they opt

for a sail on the Unicef
cards from the box
you never meant

to keep. Below your window
there are dogs, the color of spoiled
cream, and they dig

up your land-
lord’s garden, sweet
basil uprooted, withering.


Notes While Looking For Elk Antlers
Dosewallips River

Call your friend with marrow lust.
Elk antlers are dropping.
We’ll search the Dose.

Ready to arrest mice with similar notions,
we three bushwack. M uncovers the first treasure

decaying collie on the stick of its spine,
muddied red collar. You answer his whistle.

I see what you see.

Remove my Pentax, shoot.

Never did like dogs.

We separate, find each other in a mess
of fern, moss, no antlers. Too early: the chorus

of February. Before we leave you stumble on a bear.
Hit on the road, knocked over slope, skeleton divided

into ground, above Here, I will find claw, learn my fingers
like talon, grasp underneath the belly of desire, seize.


Massage School Translations

Sometime second term you will discover your sits
bones are ischial tuberosities—every tuberosity
is a protuberance, a process. And you will find ways

to hassle your Anatomy and Physiology
teacher, point to your nose and claim it
noseus process: a joke only a fellow

A+P student could enjoy. Sometime mid-second
term you will palpate for these ischial
tuberosities. On yourself and a partner

locate these bony prominences, remember to stay
away from the gluteal cleft. And you will
watch a room full of adults sitting on their

hands, some coping like cranes, one appendage
waving for balance, another diving underneath
a cheek, searching for solid below

flesh. Thankfully, this will precede the construction
men across the street, a host of workers sparking
fire to metal. Here you rely on earth, the process

of calcification, the mutual adjustments of language
from ass to ischial. There is a bowl in your
pelvis, it has been there no matter whether

you have acknowledged it, it holds
space for the adductors you never knew
you had, a family of muscles who flex.


Natasha Kochicheril Moni recently completed the Postbaccalaureate Premedical program at Mills College. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Web 2010 and Best of the Net 2009, published in journals including: Rattle, Verse, Indiana Review and The Pedestal Magazine and acknowledged as a semifinalist in Black Lawrence Press and Crab Orchard Review first-book competitions. Email: natashamoni[at]

When a Porn Star Steals a Poet’s Name

Natasha Kochicheril Moni

The poet with her shirt
off, again, boils
water for hot cereal she will eat

in her bra. And apple. A pink lady,
she slices, blanches,
adds to the sugar

oats whose only redeemer
is the organic seal.
Maybe you wanted her

in black
lace, a clove,
an espresso dripping

from lips.
She is here
to tell you she keeps

the door shut,
her favorite utensil
is a spoon, that only once

when she burned
the wood too bright
did she throb naked outside.

Here, the cats she keeps
on china, a cooling
tea beside milk sweets,

two tablets of vitamin C
and this
letter from you,

a stranger, sent to
the wrong woman
with the same full name.

Natasha Kochicheril Moni, a recent editor/publisher of Crab Creek Review, currently writes and resides in the Bay Area. Three of her poetry manuscripts were named semi-finalists in Black Lawrence Press competitions. Her work regularly appears in journals including: Indiana Review, Verse, Rattle, and Diagram. E-mail: natashamoni[at]