Elizabeth Metzger

Elizabeth Metzger is the Poetry Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal. In 2013, she won the Narrative Poetry Contest and was listed as one of Narrative’s 30 Under 30. Her poetry has recently appeared in The New Yorker, Kenyon Review Online, The Iowa Review, Yale Review, Guernica, and Best New Poets 2015. Her essays and reviews appear in PN Review, the Southwest Review, and Boston Review. Her debut collection, The Spirit Papers, won the 2016 Juniper Prize and will be published by University of Massachusetts Press in January 2017. She has taught writing at Columbia University, where she received her MFA. She lives in Los Angeles. You can read more of her work at elizabethmetzger.com.


After You Left Me in Outer Space


I opened the door and found a miniature zebra

on my doorstep. Each of her stripes

had the sudden afterglow of a lightning bolt.


“Have we met before?” I said

cupping her to my nose,

the nostrils being instinctively better to listen with.


It was then I noticed on the white of her withers

a herd of tinier zebra tearing a lion apart.

He rose at the climax of my eye contact


as if about to roar, but instead said

“Don’t worry I like when they eat me

but damn it stop your scrutiny.


It’s the glare of your inner doorknob I’m after.

It’s the yesterday thumbprint that feeds me.”

The zebras were wet with lion lust


turning their necks triangularly toward me

and I felt some thunder conquer my left wrist

where the bigger miniature zebra had started to kick


and thrash away flies and the flies were

just barely legible. The flies of course

were of this world.




Dan’s Dog Ate a Needle


Dan’s dog ate a needle, swallowed it off my second story



Why would he have chosen such a sharp

notorious stillness

to sew himself shut with


if not for a human beautifulness

already discarded in him.


To be unstitched by the surgeon.

To be sewn from the inside back out.


How could a dog correct the symptom of hunger

with a fine art so mechanical

and nervous, the stomach

an emblem of long distance?


It was the pink thread that caused the abscess

not the needle,

the way it caught in the roof

of his mouth and the lip of his liver

and the phantom rim where the soul sits

even in dogs.


I am not afraid of you anymore

that you have suffered the surgeon,

in the midst of your dragonhood, your moanless

resemblance to death.


He must have liked the thread, the surgeon said,

and the needle came along for the ride.

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