Delmarva Review: Cotton Mouth by Holly Karapetkova


“And the field for cotton goods, that is every day enlarging, as
the East is answering to the impatient calls of commerce, gives
no prospect of a speedy check to this vast power of the produce
of the slave.”
⎯ A Carolinian, Slavery in the Southern States, 1852

Luck is a field
white as stars
in a sky of jade

harvest season
heads full of cotton
hands full of cotton

we dream of buds
aching green with envy
flaring their white

blossoms open at dawn
pink by sundown
then red

withering until
the bolls beneath
crack open

foaming white
this high cotton
we’re rolling in

our mouths
so full we choke
on our own spit


Holly Karapetkova’s poems and translations from the Bulgarian have recently appeared in Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, Poetry Northwest, Delmarva Review, and other publications. Her second book, Towline, won the Vern Rutsala Poetry Contest and was published by Cloudbank Books. She chairs the Literature and Languages Department at Marymount University. Her website is

Delmarva Review is a literary journal of national scope, with regional roots. The nonprofit review publishes compelling new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from authors within the region and beyond. It is supported by individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. For copies and information, visit the website:


Letters to Editor

  1. Holly Karapetkova’s voice connects us and compels our attention through powerful images. Six of her poems, including “Cotton Mouth,” are featured in Delmarva Review, Volume 11. One was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Thank you to Spy for sharing her work

  2. Wendy Ingersoll Perry says

    Such a pleasure to see Holly’s work from the Delmarva Review.
    Thank you!

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