Hysterika is uterus

By Jess Macy

in Ancient Greek

Hippocrates calls her a

sentient beast.

She wanders her host,

blocks passages,

obstructs breathing,

induces disease.

Others say she floats,

a cork


internal rivers.

The womb, a female viscus,

a little beast,

moves herself

hither and thither

along the


She brushes

past the liver,

runs her fingertips

over the spleen,

rubs her haunches

across thorax cartilage, tickles

the diaphragm.


erratic. She delights in

pitcher sage,

runs the skin of snakes

down her cheek,

basks in the translucent

blue of the moon. But she is

cold, cold, so very


To warm her up,

they say,

she needs doctor-fingers, or

your penis, midwife-hands,

or the scoop, the grip,

or the spatula

some kitchen utensil,


They call it “The Widow’s Disease”

this animal

within an animal,

because her semen is

venomous unreleased.

They call it “The Suffocation of the Mother,”

because maybe

she’ll be driven

into witchery,

into cannibalizing her

own children,

rotating them on spits

over the coals of her hearth,


into slurping her men, sizzling,

down her throat. She’ll

smack her lips,

suck her fingers clean,

and then she will

use her

own hands to

warm her body

back up


Jess Macy was born and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City and received her BA and MA at Pittsburg State University. Following a particularly nomadic decade, she has finally settled down (for now) in Chicago to pursue her MFA at DePaul University.

Guest Editor Lori Martin is an associate professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the SpindleThe MacGuffin(parenthetical)The Little Balkans ReviewRoom MagazineGrass LimbThe Knicknackery, The Tampa Review (forthcoming), and The Maine Review. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly.

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