by Carol Alexander,
first published in “Canary“,
They told the child of the sea–
liquid poem of it, pocket stone
pawn for rail and racketing train–
journeys of the fingerling spawned
and enshelled hermit crab
pincering mussels pried from rock.
Noisome leavings of the wrack
shimmered in farflung disarray,
gull and tern and pitchy wave
attuned to the tension of the sky
bearing down to midwife night.
Then the sea, the sea itself
undulating to its own low fugue
stole away the panting breath
of the child inducted into loss.
Taut-line hitch of shore held fast,
against the undertow of sea.
In the booming trains of swell
dying cries hung in the wind
wild inhuman wail of wind,
driven roil of mounting waves
biting the pimpled matchstick legs.
What of lost fish of the deep
rainbow lights, schools of spawn
latitudes of cold degree
grinning monsters ocean slain
in the child’s fey poem of sea?
See the trope of icy moon
you child leaping in the spume
pitiless as cityscape and gray
as dead things of the ocean wrack
the graves of small ships cresting
and then roughly torn away.
by Carol Alexander
Zero is a monument, a gully
comma’d by gray shale, an alluvial basin
dry to the ox and crow. A skull of raku stone.
Mind the parched lack, dusky hours
when knives are honed, a table set with meat,
and plastic smudged by worn-out nouns.
Under the neon, by fishtailed cars
the cook is smoking, butter on his wounds.
Why subtract from much already shimmed–
who carved this rough, un-fingered spoon?
The holiness of fear is salted over.
A mouth fed on ersatz isn’t consoled.
While the tire is changed and clouds patch sky
this net of muck and sodium light
hangs over the country, the macadam road.
Here by accident, you’ve come home.
And they tow in the wreck.
A body in sedge, crumpled or deboned.
All night shrill cries, this nameless bird.
The bones build a bridge. The foot tests weight.
How we’ve stumbled into ruin: scarred palm
grooved with forgettable days.
The fender slick with evil news.
And the breathless litter
that lines the highway berm.
The density of loss, each lull coterminous
with mammalian birth, with ruptured husks.
What we don’t preserve, its zero, accuses us.
A boot torn, a thick, arterial compost
deep as rust, cicadas waking to the moon.
What to Do Before a Storm
by Carol Alexander
Slithering from the swamp, a gator
sniffs out nests of blue eggs strummed by wings.
Before the storm, you work at anagrams,
ready your safe room, your cell with almonds,
ropes of garlic, papery as a membrane.
The cat hides in the swamp, lured by frogs.
Your tank is full, and the birds don’t sing at all.
A gator goes softly. For this, it is not praised
and the heat plays scales in broken runs.
Fling your Chinese slipper at the wet lanai.
The head bares a crown of hungry teeth.
As a guest, it’s not picky: Mollusk. Waterfowl.
Editor’s Note: November 20th there will be a poetry reading in NYC featuring Carol Alexander’s book Habitat Lost and other works, to benefit the Waterkeeper Alliance. Featured poets: Carol Alexander, Sally Dawidoff, Scott Hightower, Ron Kolm, Daniel Schwartz, George Wallace, Francine Witte. Nov. 20th, 2017 from 7 to 9:30 pm at the Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allan St., New York City, NY.
Bio: Carol Alexander‘s poetry appears in anthologies including Resurrection of a Sunflower, Broken Circles, Through a Distant Lens, and Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Vol. 1. Her work can also be found in numerous print and online journals such as Bluestem, Caesura, Canary, Chiron Review, The Common, The Ekphrastic Review, One, Matter, Poetrybay, Poetry Quarterly, San Pedro River Review, Split Rock Review, The New Verse News, Soundings East and forthcoming in The High Window, Southern Humanities Review, J Journal and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbook BRIDAL VEIL FALLS (Flutter Press). HABITAT LOST, Alexander’s first full-length collection of poems, is available from Cave Moon Press and Amazon (2017).
Bio: Bea Garth is editor for Eos the Creative Context, as well as a feminist artist and poet. Bea is also the new webmaster for the Oregon Women’s Caucus for Art (http://oregonwca.org). To find out more about her personal art and poetry, see her site at: https://bgarthart.com