the bottle knows death



after José Olivares



the bottle was born full.

born of ferment:

enzyme, sugar, yeast, rot.


the woman was born a girl.

she grew into the bottle

like a ship.


the girl borne

her mother who gorged

on the bottle.


the girl was born

of the mother & the mother

borne the bottle.


the girl became a ship

christened & the mother

became ferment.


the bottle knows nothing

of love & cares little

of inheritance.


it knows only enzyme, 

sugar, yeast, & rot—

in a small word, death.




Jeanann Verlee is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow and author of two books, Said the Manic to the Muse and Racing Hummingbirds, which was awarded a silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Her third collection, prey, was first runner-up for the 2016 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award and will be published by Black Lawrence Press in 2018. She is a recipient of the Third Coast Poetry Prize and the Sandy Crimmins National Prize, and her work appears in Adroit, The Journal, Yemassee, and BuzzFeed Reader, among others. Verlee wears polka dots and kisses Rottweilers. She believes in you. Find her at