Skip to main content


Ms Popa is a Romanian-American poet
Eyewear, one of the most widely read poetry blogs in human history (to be ostentatious this Olympic Saturday), is continuing its ongoing mission to feature poems by really exciting new and/or established poets from anywhere and everywhere.  Today we have a real treat for you.

Romanian-American poet Maya Catherine Popa (pictured above) graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barnard College, Columbia University, in 2011. She went on to pursue an MFA from NYU, where she worked with veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan under a Veterans fellowship, and an MSt from Oxford University under a Clarendon Scholarship. She is the 2014 winner of the Gregory O’Donoghue Prize and the 2013 winner of the Oxford Poetry Society Martin Starkie Prize. Her poems and criticism appear in The Kenyon Review, Poetry London, Oxford Poetry, FIELD, Carcanet Blog, Colorado Review, Southword, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.  She is currently an editorial fellow at Poets & Writers and the literary editor of All Hollow Magazine.

Knockout Mouse Model

 A knockout mouse is a genetically engineered mouse in which researchers have inactivated, or "knocked out," an existing gene.

Its body & blood are teaching tools: islands of the genome’s archipelago disabled, the conditioned chaos observed. Most won’t grow past the embryo, designed for dissection, microscope eyes. A scientist spends his lunch hour contemplating the concealed sides of its origami heart.

How to say that suffering should yield something? How to say trespass, hope, progress stowed in the lax body, in one utterance?

Terror is imagining the human body intruded upon in this way, its furniture rearranged & forced to breed children. Someone coming in the night with helix scissors, clipping your eye color, turning off your hearing, switching out your liver for a third kidney, all of it happening slowly, like an old movie reel.

I feel my cells retreat into my fingers ready to defend their information.

In a gentler, cartoonier universe, the mice would be anthropomorphically attractive: knockouts, mice who model. They’d drink on the house wherever they went, twirling their tails flirtatiously.

Tonight, the unstudied, parasitic mice are having the night of their lives, scaring couples on stoops, freeloading meals from granite floors. Deli cats hear them pacing behind walls. The excitement of their tiny footsteps is excruciating.

An off duty scientist is breeding something for fun, to see what happens if—what happens? Nature’s mice are breaking & entering, slipping under doors with all they need to survive.
This poem won the Oxford Parallel Universe Prize; it appears here with permission of the author. 

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…


Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…


The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…