What We Mean When We Say Organic Evolution; what you love you must love now*

Rosemarie Dombrowski

What We Mean When We Say Organic Evolution




They’re the subject of European folklore

and Peruvian art, toxic and magical

like the image you send me on Sunday

of the one floating on its back

in the Rio Salado,

the reeds surrounding it like lanterns,

the reflection of an ocotillo

buoying it up to the surface.


I think of the act of meditation,

Shavasana and the dead,

how it altered my consciousness

the first time I touched a frog’s skin.

How they were the devil to Milton.

How I’m not afraid of anyone

pouring poison into my ear.





For once, it isn’t playing dead.

It’s entering the dry phase tonight,

bleached gray by the Sonoran sun,

its vertebrae sinking into the river rock

in a final act of camouflage.


In Australian mythology, the lizard god

gave people the ability

to express themselves through art.

I tell you that I was a lizard in a past life,

and that maybe what we’re seeing

is just the beginning.


what you love you must love now*

*(title of a song by The Six Parts Seven)

When the yellow-rumped warbler fell from the sky it shocked us with color, like the work of a

street artist madly in love. We could hear the city in its tail-feathers. We could see the anatomy of

suffering in its corpse—breast-up, head twisted, wings splayed like an offering in the shape of a

heart. I think about the cross-stitch my mother taught me, how she said it was the most durable,

perfect for sewing feathers to skin, bird to human, body to body. She said that every dead bird is

a book of patterns, a premonition, a petroglyph in the desert. Phoenix fossil and mourning dove.

The kinetic energy of the fall. The cool slate of the asphalt where it lands.





Rosemarie Dombrowski is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ, the founding editor of rinky dink press, the co-founder and host of the Phoenix Poetry Series, and the curator of First Friday Poetry on Roosevelt Row. She is the recipient of five Pushcart nominations, an Arts Hero Award, the Carrie McCray Literary Award in Nonfiction, and a fellowship from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies, The Philosophy of Unclean Things, and The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook competition.