News Poems

Our forthcoming books

Excerpts from our two forthcoming books, The Bottom by Betsy Andrews and Precarious by Allan Peterson, to be released this fall:

from The Bottom

the channel is a working-class stiff: bouys and ragged Confederate flags,
a coveline of crosses on cliffs; “Look what they built us,” the pelicans think,
concrete piers and signal towers, all good things to shit on;
the pelicans sit on the dock and take stock: behind the fish, a fish, they say,
and behind that fish, no fish at all, and behind no fish, no fishes;
it’s a port full of spines and postcard designs on the bite left behind in the
sea wrack,
a Kodak stab at a shame-faced crab, a can-opener rescue for the chowder shack;
from here, the pelting and the smelting are emptied into the harbor
further out, roustabouts, roughnecks and derrick hands get paid to raid the
in the bed below the ferryboats, the cars on board umbilical, all of us
driving farther
away from the steeplejack sea in a race to be dryer than drenched;
from the jackup rigs and the tension-leg benches a blaze like St. Elmo’s fire,
a sound like the sound of a voice, it’s multiple choice on the subject of
“bleak” versus “dire”
“Science is inquiry, not answers,” says the chemist sipping the pot-boiler
from atop the continental shelf, Humpty Dumpty’s daredevil fall,
the bore that bores at the yolk of it all, a dredging as thorough as Darwin
“I can’t go no lower,” said the Hatter: “I’m on the floor, as it is.”

a little lonely ship to shore; say pelican, think regret
dynamite fouls a pelican’s jowls,
and what’re you gonna do about it, stumblebum?
sorrow dog, landlocked, sits on the rug; I’ve shipped out to
industry’s ocean
happy dog beats her tail on the floor; I’m home once more
with a rucksack of nudge and commotion
oh, sorrow dog, the loblolly boys and their sick-bay gruel
almost fooled us with bunkum forevers;
but cure-alls won’t quarrel with a febrile bitch
and swallows don’t nap in the ice-cold sea
and night scrapes at night like a dash-throat razor
her lungs, catching up to her heart, exhaled, her skin her
fur, her fur
and me? a little lonely now shore to ship, pox and rot and flux
and itch

the mermaids raise their hands; they would like to ask a question
they are unfamiliar with microphones, and the flotational devices of
the press pool
but they recognize a wave when they see one —
they can mimic the speed of sound in air;
when called on, the mermaids manage their mouths into the shape of
“What is that?”
it’s a riddle twice as inflated as Texas; it’s six times the weight of
the plankton seas
it’s a teaser rendered in styrene with the acronym PCB
it’s albatross innards decoded as omen; it’s a starfish-crossed plea
it’s a whopper, and the flack leaves the bait on the hook
the mermaids listen up: audible distortions and the deafening roar of
“No comment,”
which the mermaids jot in their books
but even if the stowaways are thrown to the squids
the commodores can’t keep a lid on the story; it’s
in the driftwood, in the rookery, in the dory in the belly
of the catch;
the coda is, “It’s trash”
it’s sorrow dog’s chew toy, and worse —
it’s the skeleton ship’s cargo, it’s clamshelled desires and seventy
brands of thirst
Water bottles everywhere, far, far too much to drink

from Precarious

Every Day

Every day if not sooner or more often
I find a small surprise
Today a scorpion that overwintered in the latch
bird on the roof peak
like a prow and the house sailing faster therefore
to bring both of us and guano and oak leaves
closer to the coast where I am
turning the fish skull so the sun can bleach it
to go inside with the ormolu spoons
helmet shells and other treasures of the beauty
of death in life


The world is the large body next to me
It has the right to remain silent but does not
We exchange breaths
At night we wear the same color
and pass through each other without being noticed
What I forget about is there
Our footprints are filling with pictures of water
Streets are being doubled by wet lights
The months of visible breaths are beginning

Beginning Again

There is a door that closes April
and opens May
It is paper and its numbers remember nothing
after thirty-one
Things begin again the way I can enter one room
and forget another
like a past life where the water has boiled away

In fifteen eighty-two ten days
were removed from the calendar causing riots
for wages and lost birthdays
and today the day shortened an hour

and I became president
once again of the room behind the door
The ghosts pass again before the porch
the cruelest door
The riots continue now but more faintly

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