by Kate Northrop


Things at the edge are at the center of Kate Northrop’s cuntstruck: a man squatting on a roof with his arms around his knees, kids running over the roofs of row houses at night, ghost decorations tied into trees, the unfocused eyes of the Scrambler attendant at the fair, the circle of foam around a storm drain. The world of cuntstruck is at once the world that was there (the drive-in that now is only a field) and the world that wasn’t (the one we walk around and around but can find no way into); it is winter (a man in the empty road in the snow) and summer (grasses frothing up against a boat); it is certainty (the rain thumping against the house) and uncertainty (the neighbor’s dog in the middle of the pond in the middle of the night). In Kate Northrop’s cuntstruck, things “drop away from us,” and we see “as if on the brink.” cuntstruck changes what we see, and how we see it.

First published in Agni:

The Field the Drive-in Was In

—what are we here? The hive mind
answers hive-ily, and the suggestions
make for us, make for us: brzoom, as
high school boys, cunt-struck.

“Oh we were young, oh we banged around the world,
holding our arms out, hoping for what?”

All the while, something, my love, bore down on the boat, a power
quick and sickly, cut-throat.
But we happened,

we happened, drawing each other out,
reading newspapers and novels until the marina
swooped back into view.

Across the water, shimmering:
powerful, calming, and regular as credits—


“Kate Northrop’s poem “Decorations” contains the question “What’s poetry?”. Kate Northrop knows what poetry is, what it can do, and what it’s for. These poems are as weird and as beautiful as the fireflies she mentions in the poem “Jubilee Days.” They’ll make you feel smart and outsmarted. The poems in cuntstruck remind me of starbursts and of Starbursts. They’re sweet and bright and tart and they linger.”

— Jessy Randall, author of Injecting Dreams into Cows