the imagined :: stephen dunn

If the imagined woman makes the real woman
seem bare-boned, hardly existent, lacking in
gracefulness and intellect and pulchritude,
and if you come to realize the imagined woman
can only satisfy your imagination, whereas
the real woman with all her limitations
can often make you feel good, how, in spite
of knowing this, does the imagined woman
keep getting into your bedroom, and joining you
at dinner, why is it that you always bring her along
on vacations when the real woman is shopping,
or figuring the best way to the museum?

                                    And if the real woman

has an imagined man, as she must, someone
probably with her at this very moment, in fact
doing and saying everything she’s ever wanted,
would you want to know that he slips in
to her life every day from a secret doorway
she’s made for him, that he’s present even when
you’re eating your omelette at breakfast,
or do you prefer how she goes about the house
as she does, as if there were just the two of you?
Isn’t her silence, finally, loving? And yours
not entirely self-serving? Hasn’t the time come,

               once again, not to talk about it?

thoughts from the poet via The New Yorker

insult :: michael ryan

Before you went out I asked you
in no uncertain terms to button
the next button up your shirt
that showed your naked breast
from the right angle when you twisted
and bent, an angle admittedly rarely
reproduced in real-world space
and then what would need to be in place
is the mythical irresistible male
whose lust could flare furiously
(like mine) and push you ecstatically
beyond where you sexually go
with me. Obviously I don’t know
what would be possible for you
with another body than mine,
but I love you and yours so dearly
the thought’s too much for me
despite your saying your love for me
makes the idea preposterous
from the get-go. I’m sorry
I spoke harshly. My jealousy
is a jealous companion.
It wants me alone.

via the new yorker

anyone can write a poem :: bradley paul

I am arguing with an idiot online.
He says anybody can write a poem.
I say some people are afraid to speak.
I say some people are ashamed to speak.
If they said the pronoun “I”
they would find themselves floating
in the black Atlantic
and a woman would swim by, completely
dry, in a rose chiffon shirt,
until the ashamed person says her name
and the woman becomes wet and drowns
and her face turns to flayed ragged pulp,
white in the black water.
He says that he’d still write
even if someone cut off both his hands.
As if it were the hands that make a poem,
I say. I say what if someone cut out
whatever brain or gut or loin or heart
that lets you say hey, over here, listen,
I have something to tell you all,
I’m different.
As an example I mention my mother
who loved that I write poems
and am such a wonderful genius.
And then I delete the comment
because my mother wanted no part of this or any
argument, because “Who am I
to say whatever?”
Once on a grade school form
I entered her job as hairwasher.
She saw the form and was embarrassed and mad.
“You should have put receptionist.”
But she didn’t change it.
The last word she ever said was No.
And now here she is in my poem,
so proud of her idiot son,
who presumes to speak for a woman
who wants to tell him to shut up, but can’t.

last :: maxine scates

At dusk the streetlights
stand like beacons to the underworld,
a girl runs toward me beaded with rain
and sweat. I think husk, wheels
seeds rattle, shake loose and a candle
is held to the egg’s red mass she is
too young to see. In Pompeii those bodies
are not bodies but plaster poured
into the cavity where a body once lay,
no less a hand pushing back ash,
no less a woman with her unborn child
twisting for a pocket of air,
the forge, the fire, the glimpsed blade,
a door we close quickly, just as my brother
said Now I know I will die, and I thought
of course and not me in the same second.
We kept driving, arrived at the airport
and the next day our father did die—
aria, the birds rising at the sound
of the explosion and plums, succulent
ashy, burnished. Walking down the Spanish
Steps on a Sunday morning in October,
no one there yet, Keats’ window open,
you said Ten or fifteen years from now
when I am gone, come back
. You touched
our absence from each other,
the fifteen years ahead you’ve always had—
when in dreams I am older and you
remain as you were when we first met,
before devotion was returned,
or was it that I let it be—our lives together
suddenly recognizable as if seared pages
fallen from a larger book.

mountain elegy :: tom wayman

Dave Bostock

Late on the day of his death,
high in the alpine
above the trees, I crossed a field
more stone than earth
and found what I had climbed for.
Where ice and the cold
pummel the hard ground,
where frost and the relentless glacial wind
tear at whatever tries to live,
the moss campion
adheres to bits of soil
lichens have generated over eons
from rock. The campion, too,
has infinite patience:
a decade passes
before it will flower.
After a quarter-century
it spreads no wider
than the outstretched fingers of a hand.
But the flower digs in, buffeted by the nightly chill,
by solar rays, by hail, the Spring melt,
smothered for much of the year beneath snow.
Air trapped in its leaves
and clusters, however,
forms a minute protected place
out of the wind and
warmed by sun.
Here, other plants are born
and nurtured.

His laughter
was such an enclosure
in the roaring life below.
One time I’d been working welding
on a logging show in the Charlottes
I had a couple of grand saved
so decided to quit. This was when
if you had any kind of trade, any kind of ticket
you were in demand.
It was no big deal to change jobs.
On Friday
I picked up my pay, and made a point
of finding the boss
and telling him exactly, in detail,
what I thought of him
and where he could put
the whole outfit. Then I was on the plane
for Rupert, with some of the other guys.
We’d already had plenty to drink
before we even got on board.

On Monday I woke up
in the Rupert Hotel.
I had no idea
how I had spent the weekend
but I discovered I was absolutely broke.
Every cent of my two thousand dollars was gone.
I phoned to the camp I just left
and asked if I could have my job back.
“Sure, Dave,” the boss said.
“Report as soon as you get in.”
“Uh, Mr. Johnson?” I had to say.
“Could you advance me the money
for the plane? I don’t have
quite enough to cover the fare.”
“Okay,” he said. That’s how it was at the time:
tear a strip off ’em on Friday
and grovel on Monday
and they’d rehire you.
It was special. Try that today, though,
and see how far you get.

I camped that night
just above treeline, by a cluster of dwarf firs,
a krumholz, formed on the barren
by a single plant
whose roots tunnel upslope
and emerge, or whose branches
pushed down by snow
take root. Such gatherings, too,
create within themselves
an eddy of more hospitable weather
in the high, harsh air.
These conifer islands are also how trees advance,
pushing toward the summit: forerunners
marking and clearing a path
others will follow in relative certainty
and ease.

I had a job with a pile driving crew
–metal piles. The company was Ontario-based
and I think this was the first time
they had hired union labor.
Anyway, one of their foreman
was forever showing up to order you to do
some task you’d already begun.
I’d have finished a weld
and was packing up my gear to move
to the next spot, when the foreman would come by
and say: “Dave, I want you to pack your equipment
and haul it over there for the next weld.”
For a time this guy only seemed silly
but one morning–I don’t know, it was a bad day
or something–he really started to bother me.
When for the nine-hundredth time
the foreman ordered me to start
what I already was in the middle of,
I lost it. I began to whine, real loud:
“Aww, you’re always telling me
to do that. I don’t wanna. Why do I
have to go down in that hole
and weld? How come you don’t tell
anybody else to do it?”
The foreman’s face went white.
He didn’t know what to say.
He backed off, but others on the crew had heard
and a few minutes later I heard a whine
from over by the crane:
“I don’t wanna do that. You’re always
saying I have to. How come I
have to be the one to do it?”
After this, there was no stopping the guys.
All over the site, whenever the foreman
tried to tell anybody anything
you’d hear this incredible whining:
“Awww. I don’t wanna.” Afterwards, we called it
a whine-in. The foreman
only lasted a couple more days
then he was gone.

The heat of my fire
slashes at my face
when I bend to lever
a log further into the flames.
The song of his life–his work,
his music, his joy–
brought him a cancer that spread
through his body, shrunken
beyond remedy, and then the pneumonia
he chose
to let kill him.
From the peaks around me in the dark,
wind and sun and the earth’s turning
bring the snowpack
to the valleys we dwell in
–whether as water
or cold air
we breathe, and then we don’t breathe,
leaving behind
our laughter or rage,
our unfinished stories
whispered toward the stars.


the promise :: jane hirshfield

Stay, I said
to the cut flowers.
They bowed
their heads lower.

Stay, I said to the spider,
who fled.

Stay, leaf.
It reddened,
embarrassed for me and itself.

Stay, I said to my body.
It sat as a dog does,
obedient for a moment,
soon starting to tremble.

Stay, to the earth
of riverine valley meadows,
of fossiled escarpments,
of limestone and sandstone.
It looked back
with a changing expression, in silence.

Stay, I said to my loves.
Each answered,

retriever :: faith shearin

My father, in middle age, falls in love with a dog.
He who kicked dogs in anger when I was a child,
who liked his comb always on the same shelf,
who drank martinis to make his mind quiet.

He who worked and worked—his shirts
wrapped in plastic, his heart ironed
like a collar. He who—like so many men—
loved his children but thought the money

he made for them was more important
than the rough tweed of his presence.
The love of my father’s later years is
a Golden Retriever—more red

than yellow—a nervous dog who knows
his work clothes from his casual ones,
can read his creased face, who waits for
him at the front door—her paws crossed

like a child’s arms. She doesn’t berate him
for being late, doesn’t need new shoes
or college. There is no pressure to raise her
right, which is why she chews the furniture,

pees on rugs, barks at strangers who
cross the lawn. She is his responsible soul
broken free. She is the children he couldn’t
come home to made young again.

She is like my mother but never angry,
always devoted. He cooks for his dog—
my father who raised us in restaurants—
and takes her on business trips like

a wife. Sometimes, sitting beside her
in the hair-filled fan he drives to make
her more comfortable, my father’s dog
turns her head to one side as if

thinking and, in this pose, more than
one of us has mistaken her for a person.
We would be jealous if she didn’t make
him so happy—he who never took

more than one trip on his expensive
sailboat, whose Mercedes was wrecked
by a valet. My mother saw him behind
the counter of a now-fallen fast food

restaurant when she was nineteen.
They kissed beside a river where fish
no longer swim. My father who was
always serious has fallen in love with

a dog. What can I do but be happy for him?

oniomania :: peter pereira

Not so much the desire
for owning things
as the inability to choose
between hunter or emerald
green, to buy
just roses, when there are birds
of paradise, dahlias,
delphinium, and baby’s breath.
At center an emptiness
large as a half-off sale table.
What could be so wrong
with a little indulgence?
To wander the aisles of fresh
new good things knowing
any of them could be hers?
With a closet full of shoes
unworn back home,
she’s looking for love
but it’s not for sale —
so she grabs three of
the next best thing.

notes from the forest :: malinda markham

Cut an animal tongue to turn
the body to gold. Figure burst whole from fruit,
then bent back in. The skin
is fresh, the bruise but a moment
and fine. The man, his hand sunk in the sea,
anchors nothing. One woman at another,
small blade at her eye. These are the stories
we do not want to tell. To swell (a mother),
to retract into fugitive sleep.
Embed a word in a single rib & live
eighty years longer than the rest. Tie cloth
around the eyes. A body swathed in blue
will be safe, the eyes turn up on cue.
What is severed, what kneeling,
what waiting just past the gate.
Unveil the mannequin’s legs in glee. This is not
a feast and at least one lack cannot
be avenged. Fallen persimmons
quiet the eyes. What climbs, what steals,
what severs in threes. One opening
breaks into the next. This is only a mouth.
I’m sure you know the rest. To break,
to liquefy, to drink the answer down.
I for one have given. “Send the butcher back
when he arrives at the gate.” A paper
bird can only melt in the rain. Its rider
stares death in the mouth and can’t speak.
A figure of light, a lie, a woman so pure
children only believe. To sow, to steep,
to follow unthinking. Animal love a tree too much.
Be killed by what it has planted.

commands for the end of summer :: rachel wetzsteon


leaves, not with what
has made us sorry but
with what was profound about that


Make me
gathering winds, but don’t
blow so giddily I teeter
too much.


Songs I
listened to all
summer long, accept my
thanks: to regress is not to move


Splash of
patchouli on
my wrist, remind me that
in this cauldron there is a world


Smile! Those
days of humid
agony have earned you
the right to a hundred purple


Come, fall,
I can feel you
stirring, I can hardly
wait for the things that will happen
come fall.

memento :: eamon grennan

Scattered through the ragtaggle underbrush starting to show green shoots
lie the dark remains of rail sleepers napping now beside the rusted-out wreck

of a Chevy that was once sky-blue and now is nothing but shattered panels and
anonymous bits of engine in the ditch by a path that was once a railway line

cut between small hills whose silence hasn’t been broken by the rattle and
lonesome-blown whistle of a train for fifty years and whose air hasn’t filled

for ages with my childhood’s smell (set by Seapoint on the coastal line) of coal
smoke and hot steam puffed up in great cloud-breaths out of a black-sooted chimney.

this is a photograph of me :: margaret atwood

It was taken some time ago.
At first it seems to be
a smeared
print: blurred lines and grey flecks
blended with the paper;

then, as you scan
it, you see in the left-hand corner
a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
(balsam or spruce) emerging
and, to the right, halfway up
what ought to be a gentle
slope, a small frame house.

In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that, some low hills.

(The photograph was taken
the day after I drowned.

I am in the lake, in the center
of the picture, just under the surface.

It is difficult to say where
precisely, or to say
how large or small I am:
the effect of water
on light is a distortion

but if you look long enough,
you will be able to see me.)

certain people :: richard jones

My father lives by the ocean
and drinks his morning coffee
in the full sun on his deck,
talking to anyone
who walks by on the beach.
And in the afternoons he works
part-time at the golf course–
sailing the fairways like sea captain
in a white golf cart.
My father must talk
to a hundred people a day,
yet we haven’t spoken in weeks.
As I get older, we hardly speak at all.
It’s as if he were a stranger
and we had never met.
I wonder, if I
were a tourist on the beach
or a golfer lost in woods
and met him now for the very first time,
what we’d say to each other,
how his hand would feel in mine
as we introduced ourselves,
and if, as is the case
with certain people, I’d feel,
when I looked him in the eye,
I’d known him all my life.

autumn movement :: carl sandburg

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman,
           the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things
           come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go,
           not one lasts.

a lesson for this sunday :: derek walcott

The growing idleness of summer grass
With its frail kites of furious butterflies
Requests the lemonade of simple praise
In scansion gentler than my hammock swings
And rituals no more upsetting than a
Black maid shaking linen as she sings
The plain notes of some Protestant hosanna—
Since I lie idling from the thought in things—

Or so they should, until I hear the cries
Of two small children hunting yellow wings,
Who break my Sabbath with the thought of sin.
Brother and sister, with a common pin,
Frowning like serious lepidopterists.
The little surgeon pierces the thin eyes.
Crouched on plump haunches, as a mantis prays
She shrieks to eviscerate its abdomen.
The lesson is the same. The maid removes
Both prodigies from their interest in science.
The girl, in lemon frock, begins to scream
As the maimed, teetering thing attempts its flight.
She is herself a thing of summery light,
Frail as a flower in this blue August air,
Not marked for some late grief that cannot speak.

The mind swings inward on itself in fear
Swayed towards nausea from each normal sign.
Heredity of cruelty everywhere,
And everywhere the frocks of summer torn,
The long look back to see where choice is born,
As summer grass sways to the scythe’s design.

tonight :: ladan osman

Tonight is a drunk man,
his dirty shirt.

There is no couple chatting by the recycling bins,
offering to help me unload my plastics.

There is not even the black and white cat
that balances elegantly on the lip of the dumpster.

There is only the smell of sour breath. Sweat on the collar of my shirt.
A water bottle rolling under a car.
Me in my too-small pajama pants stacking juice jugs on neighbors’ juice jugs.

I look to see if there is someone drinking on their balcony.

I tell myself I will wave.

sometimes :: mary oliver


Something came up
out of the dark.
It wasn’t anything I had ever seen before.
It wasn’t an animal
or a flower,
unless it was both.

Something came up out of the water,
a head the size of a cat
but muddy and without ears.
I don’t know what God is.
I don’t know what death is.

But I believe they have between them
some fervent and necessary arrangement.


melancholy leaves me breathless…


Water from the heavens! Electricity from the source!
Both of them mad to create something!

The lighting brighter than any flower.
The thunder without a drowsy bone in its body.


Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Two or three times in my life I discovered love.
Each time it seemed to solve everything.
Each time it solved a great many things
but not everything.
Yet left me as grateful as if it had indeed, and
thoroughly, solved everything.


God, rest in my heart
and fortify me,
take away my hunger for answers,
let the hours play upon my body

like the hands of my beloved.
Let the cathead appear again-
the smallest of your mysteries,
some wild cousin of my own blood probably-
some cousin of my own wild blood probably,
in the black dinner-bowl of the pond.


Death waits for me, I know it, around
one corner or another.
This doesn’t amuse me.
Neither does it frighten me.

After the rain, I went back into the field of sunflowers.
It was cool, and I was anything but drowsy.
I walked slowly, and listened

to the crazy roots, in the drenched earth, laughing and growing.

glut :: gerald stern

The whole point was getting rid of glut
for which I starved myself and lived with the heat down
and only shaved oh every five days and used
a blunt razor for months so that my cheek
was not only red but the hair was bent not cut
for which I then would be ready for the bicycle
and the broken wrist, for which—oh God—I would be
ready to climb the steps and fight the boxes
with only nothing, a pair of shoes, and once
inside to open the window and let the snow in
and when the fire was over climb down the icy
fire escape and drop the last twenty
feet with notebooks against my chest, bruises
down one side of my body, fresh blood down the other.

you just think the last time :: by greg kosmicki

you saw your uncle down
at the alleys, his hair
still all there, big silver
pompadour style slicked straight
back, nice leather jacket,
new brown shoes—you just think
doggone ‘ol Uncle Bill
looks good for eighty-four!
He turns and says something,
you can’t even think what.
You wish you could, you wish
you had gotten his joke.
He was an uncle like
all your others: always
joking. He said something,
everybody there laughed,
you laughed too—hell, you love
your uncle! He’s one of
the last of the brothers—
you’ve got your Dad, Paul, known
as Sandy, Uncle John,
known as Jeep, and Uncle
Bill (real name is L.P.
for Leonard Paul), and he’s
here at the bar at the
bowling alley, your friend
Tim is talking to him,
there’s a joke made, you laugh
he laughs, Tim laughs, but you
can’t remember the joke,
you didn’t quite hear it.
The last thing your Uncle
said to you last time
you saw him, and if you
had known you could have said
Hey Uncle Bill say that
joke again I might not
ever see your ugly
mug again and he would,
he would have repeated
the joke, he would have said
it over and over
for you as long as you
stood there listening, he
would still be there today
amidst the mild cursing
of the billiard players,
rancid tobacco smoke,
whir of English on cloth,
the soft clink of the balls.

five years later :: tony gloeggler

My brother was on his way
to a dental appointment
when the second plane hit
four stories below the office
where he worked. He’s never
said anything about the guy
who took football bets, how
he liked to watch his secretary
walk, the friends he ate lunch with,
all the funerals. Maybe, shamed
by his luck, he keeps quiet,
afraid someone might guess
how good he feels, breathing.

archaic torso of apollo :: rainer maria rilke

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.


Discussion by Mark Doty.
The sculpture at the Louvre.)

the widening sky :: edward hirsch

I am so small walking on the beach
at night under the widening sky.
The wet sand quickens beneath my feet
and the waves thunder against the shore.

I am moving away from the boardwalk
with its colorful streamers of people
and the hotels with their blinking lights.
The wind sighs for hundreds of miles.

I am disappearing so far into the dark
I have vanished from sight.
I am a tiny seashell
that has secretly drifted ashore

and carries the sound of the ocean
surging through its body.
I am so small now no one can see me.
How can I be filled with such a vast love?

the pear :: ruth stone

There hangs this bellied pear, let no rake doubt,
Meat for the tongue and febrile to the skin,
Wasting for the mildew and the rot,
A tallow rump slow rounded, a pelt thin
And for the quickest bite; so, orchard bred,
Heaviest downward from the shaking stem.
Whose fingers curve around the ripened head
Lust to split so fine a diadem.

There is the picker, stretches for the knife,
There are the ravening who claw the fruit,
More, those adjuring wax that lasts a life,
And foxes, freak for cunning, after loot.
For that sweet suck the hornet whines his wits,
But husbandman will dry her for the pits.

my mojave :: donald revell

As of
A meteor
At mid-
Day: it goes
From there.

A perfect circle falls
Onto white imperfections.
(Consider the black road,
How it seems white the entire
Length of a sunshine day.)

Or I could say
Shadows and mirage
Compensate the world,
Completing its changes
With no change.

In the morning after a storm,
We used brooms. Out front,
There was broken glass to collect.
In the backyard, the sand
Was covered with transparent wings.
The insects could not use them in the wind
And so abandoned them. Why
Hadn’t the wings scattered? Why
Did they lie so stilly where they’d dropped?
It can only be the wind passed through them.

Jealous lover,
Your desire
Passes the same way.

And jealous earth,
There is a shadow you cannot keep
To yourself alone.
At midday,
My soul wants only to go
The black road which is the white road.
I’m not needed
Like wings in a storm,
And God is the storm.

second draft :: james logenbach

As an older man,
Graying, not stooped,
I saw the future:

Cold, tongue
Foam at the lips.
Excessive hope

Seemed more
Than despair.
I ran great distances.
I stood in sunlight

Just to see my shadow,
Show it off.
For the first time I remember

My soul looked back.
What other people learn
From birth,
I learned late.

My soul perched
On an olive branch
Combing itself,
Waving its plumes. I said

Being mortal,
I aspire to
Mortal things.

I need you,
Said my soul,
If you’re telling the truth.

peach farm :: dean young

I’m thinking it’s time to go back
to the peach farm or rather
the peach farm seems to be wanting me back
even though the work of picking, sorting,
the sticky perils and sudden swarms are done.
Okay, full disclosure, I’ve never
been on a peach farm, just glimpsed
from a car squat trees I assumed
were peach and knew a couple in school
who went off one summer, so they said,
to work on a peach farm. She was pregnant,
he didn’t have much intention, canvases
of crushed lightbulbs and screws in paste.
He’d gotten fired from the lunch counter
for putting too much meat
on the sandwiches of his friends
then ended up in Macy’s in New York
selling caviar and she went home
I think to Scranton, two more versions
of never hearing from someone again.
I’d like to say the most important fruits
are within but that’s the very sort of bullshit
one goes to the peach farm to avoid,
not just flight from quadratic equations,
waiting for the plumber,
finding out your insurance won’t pay.
Everyone wants out of the spider’s stomach.
Everyone wants to be part of some harvest
and stop coughing to death and cursing
at nothing and waking up nowhere near
an orchard. Look at these baskets,
bashed about, nearly ruined with good employ.
Often, after you’ve spent a day on a ladder,
you dream of angels, the one with the trumpet
and free subscriptions to the New Yorker
or the archer, the oink angel, angel
of ten dollar bills found in the dryer
or the one who welcomes you in work gloves
and says if you’re caught eating a single peach,
even windfall, you’ll be executed.
Then laughs. It’s okay, kiddo,
long as you’re here, you’re one of us.

breakfast :: minnie bruce pratt

Rush hour, and the short order cook lobs breakfast
sandwiches, silverfoil softballs, up and down the line.
We stand until someone says, Yes? The next person behind
breathes hungrily. The cashier’s hands never stop. He shouts:
Where’s my double double? We help. We eliminate all verbs.
The superfluous want, need, give they already know. Nothing’s left
but stay or go, and a few things like bread. No one can stay long,
not even the stolid man in blue-hooded sweats, head down, eating,
his work boots powdered with cement dust like snow that never melts.

the process :: joseph massey

outside sounds
double the day’s

indoor confusion.
How to untwine
noise, to see.

There’s the bay,
highway slashed
beneath; water

a weaker shade
of gray than this
momentary sky’s

widening bruise.
The page turns
on the table, bare

despite all
I thought was
written there.

invitation :: caroline goodwin

come to the end of the wharf
when the last of the tide releases
the harbor with its trollers
and rigging its lampshells
and speckled anemone come
after work when the mind
has grown plumes delicate
as tubeworms in the driftwood
in the sponge and scarlet
blood star tough as tongues
as the sea whip clicking

here is the hornmouth and wentletrap
and chiton and quahog and cockle
and wrinkle of the human knuckle
that rim inside the human eye
here a thin film an eyelid
an iris surrendering its pupil