Ashley Capps

The Glacier
Issue One
Fall 2022

Bee in Milk

There was a time when my little niece called all bugs "bees" and all liquids "milk," and 
I found her hands-and-knees on the sidewalk, diapered butt in the air like a diving 
duck, pointing to a puddle in which an ant was flailing; face so close to the puddle it 
was nearly in the puddle. What she wanted, without understanding she could be the 
agent of it, was for the ant not to drown in the puddle, to which her own tears were 
contributing. Crying to the world there was a bee in the milk.

Prayer for Bees

Bomb us with sharp collars & dark blood 
Bomb us with furrowed orange feet 
Bomb us with sunflower     leaf-cutters
Bomb us with hairy saddles
Bomb us with armed nomads
Bomb us with little blue carpenters
Bomb us with wood carvings
Bomb us with shiny gasters
Bomb us with small scissors
Bomb us with large meadows
Bomb us with confusion
Bomb us with forests
Bomb us with short hair
Bomb us with crotches
Bomb us with orchids
Bomb us with heaths
Bomb us with sand castles
Bomb us with bear claws
Bomb us with little dark
Bomb us with gold tails
Bomb us with silver sides 
Bomb us with large scissors
Bomb us with red thighs
Bomb us with white shoulders
Bomb us with shrill carders 
& red-shanked carders & moss carders 
Bomb us with spined blood 
Bomb us with small gorse
Bomb us with boreo-alpine bilberry miners
Bomb us with plasterers      
spackling the cells 
of their underground nests 
with plastic secreted 
in their abdomens, 
a true polyester
Bomb us with vespertines
Bomb us with sea asters

“Saddest Slaughterhouse Footage Ever Shows
No Blood or Slaughter”

            —an online headline
It isn't long. Three minutes. Two cows the color of dirty snow stand single file in a 
concrete corridor, too narrow for either to turn around. The camera films from behind, 
looking down. There’s a dark door ahead like a closed garage door, from which: men 
yelling, a clattering of metals, animal moans. The cows shuffle nervously. The first cow 
in line attempts to look back then tries to back up, which retreat the second cow works 
to oblige in ungainly reverse but with too little space to accommodate. There’s another 
closed door behind cow two, which I know without seeing because I know where they 
are. They move back and forth like words in a sentence that can’t be written but 
desperately keeps rewriting itself. The air explodes with a hydraulic hiss. The steel door 
rises. A man in clothes the color of dirty snow walks down a ramp, leans over 
the railing, and into the flesh of the first cow presses an electric prod. The seared 
cow panics and bolts toward the door. Another jolt, cow one goes in, the door drops shut. 
Cow two backs up, hooves sliding in shit, then stands very still, ears swiveling like 
separate radar dishes: there’s the crack of a shot, a great weight collapsing, and a long 
low wail like a foghorn. We’re at minute 1:24. Cow two backs up as far as he can go, 
stubs his horns on the side of the corridor, hears another guttering groan and spends 
the next thirty seconds trying to fold his body in half: rear wedged against one side, 
face braced against the other, shoulders scraping, haunches scraping, turn, body, turn. 
But the chute is too narrow. 2:17: cow two is still pinned but he’s managed to screw his 
head back just enough to stare into the camera for all eternity with eyes like sinking 
ships. I made myself watch this so I wouldn't forget why I couldn't love you, because 
you don't deserve to be loved.


             for Piggy & for Clifton
the months you were dying
I saved all the gold
tin lids from your cat food cans
I was going to build
a giant sun
and now have saved
one thousand silver
aluminum cups
from all the tealights
lit at your altar
I wanted to hammer
into a nicho
or some kind of shrine
finding all other channels
permanently lost
but none of it
sun    hammer    altar
bags of garbage
foliage stars
death is not
the worst form
of absence
memory is
the worst form
of absence

[In a Meadow I Am Not]

             for my dog, Charlie
In a meadow I am not
permitted often
to return to
I who never
don’t look back
am packing
all my want
you are there
whose body said
isn’t the rain
a path
and ran
wringing light
from silence
the you the I
that hour pasture
and now
I night  
I now     admit
there is none of you left
but the grass
still blows
and I see you there
and I see you run
your going is folded
into the sun


Track of mild hoofprints
in snow become
suddenly headlong,
a blacksmith’s tongs
imprinting miles,
calls to mind the gone 
cry of a saw-whet owl,
soughing of wind. 
I do not know 
which way is the direction
and which disintegration. 
I sense a million 
bodied words.
Inside this 
the sun is an axe,



It is useful to be in the habit of saying what the sun is like. On a day I was looking at a slide of Allium cells in my microscope, I wrote, “Sun like an onion full of feathers.” On a day I was reading about laboratory experiments on baby birds, I noted, “Sun like a disembodied beak.” Walking in a field disco-balled with dew so bright my vision bounced and broke off, I thought and later wrote, “Sun like a trampoline.” On a sad day after many sad days when the sun should not rise, I typed “blows of sunlight” into an email draft, then deleted that and wrote “Sun like a paywall.” Next day: “Sun like an out-of-office auto reply.” 


Sun like a stethoscope.
Operculum sun.
Overring turning fathers into far sheep.
Sequin indeed zeroizing me.
Barbiturate bolus.
Sensorium gavel.
Howl mind.
First eye which was breath.
Ampere ampoule.
Toad tympanum.
Original amnion.
Diamond stylus.
Looking out to sea 
or standing at a river, 
one may see 
the meteoric shimmer 
across the surface
of the water 
called sun glitter 
which is in fact
small images
of the sun
redounding on waves:
hot wet eyes 
of baby cries.
Good gestalt.
Good good wife.
The pins 
on the cylinder
pluck tuned teeth
emitting deaf
Beethoven’s 9th.
All boyish laughter.
Sole geometer.
Causes my life
to return to me.

Transmission Error

I did not throw your books in the ryveer.

I stood at the ryvere and wept and carried them home.

I did not throw the books that you wrote in that rivair.

I wept at that reveir and carried them home.

I did not drop the books bearing your name in the revere I wept

at the rivre and carried them home.

I did not put the books that you wrote in the revor.

I wept at the rever and carried them home.

ASHLEY CAPPS received an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and has published a book of poems, Mistaking the Sea for Green Fields. The recipient of poetry fellowships from the Iowa Arts Council, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and the National Endowment for the Arts, she works as a writer, editor and researcher for the the food and climate justice non-profit A Well-Fed World, and the animal rights non-profit Free from Harm. She is at work on a second collection of poems entitled The FOReSt. With the poet Allison Titus, she is co-editing THE NEW SENT(I)ENCE, an animal poetry anthology forthcoming from Trinity University Press in 2024.

Artwork from Creative Commons.
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