Five Poems

November 24, 2017






I was in a mulberry that grew like a willow

thin limbs vinelike in a skirt of leaves

Through laddered shadows I saw our Chevrolet

and the simple geometry of parking in white lines

strawberries beyond


I wore a deck chair an adirondack

ribs upright broad arms and a failing spine


Night painted the hills and spread a black towel

around my shoulders then came the meteors

a necklace of now with then around the edges


I was wearing a hammock like the moon

crescent from weight and criss-crossed

with small birds sweeping back and forth

as if laying spider silk that could explain

how the argiope hung its net above the creek


I could have dressed in feathers

I could have even liked opera






I am reading small books

that can be opened with one hand

and held as if cecropias

wings spread wide as pages


Amy makes them


They confirm my wish to live fully

in the intensity of silence

and within the beautifully accurate

language of Gray’s Anatomy


Earth is a bookmark birthmark


I hold a cobalt glazed bowl

full of babylonia spirata

from the Indian Ocean

resolving wishes into fulfillment  


A fog bank book moves downshore

cohesive  opaque  yet ghost made



a frenzy of cells  a magnificent glimpse

a sunset sewn in gold threads 

and I am still in love  all flowers are

Forget Me Nots


To protect such preciousness

colophons once bristled with curses






Is any word more watery than this


I close my book  The ocean

is turning its pages faster than my own

a notebook with helpful tables of conversions

how many ounces in a mile


Above high tide a rain releases esters and alcohols

from lichens and live oaks

The future is lights and darks back to back

a continuing revelation with breathing inlets 

eyelets like wearing a seeing shirt


Even time was discovered to be water soluble


The swollen moon could shrink to a button

Rocks were ducks with their heads wing-hidden

Ducks were rocks with their oxides showing


The miraculous is so everyday it lasts

Even the wavering pages in my book meet the guidelines

for permanence






It is what we call sleep

An account and description


For some hours we had forgotten 

distracted by phone calls and bombing

of distant villages  wondering

whether plaid was the true beginning

of abstraction


Then some faint reminder condenses

from a long hallway

the words you are reading seem a kite

let out on a long string

the page pumiced snowy with erasures


We slip from hard facts into florilegia 

a drift without noticing  

a parade and a horse startled 

that couldn’t help stepping backwards

onto the child on the curb  

a voice of someone not present but speaking

in your voice  vortices like smoke

like swirls from rowing

We are inside


We become the tradition that after a query

is a curl and a dot

a squiggle become quizzical through use


A tree of crows discussing at once

what comes after seven






It was not promised  it was just land


and it was not another language

just the dictionary upside down


You get used to it


looking on the stove to read time

watching lop sided flowers

slide off bedspreads and spring

handing over its once fresh belongings


The glimpse is underappreciated   

as a source of knowledge

a gust through a sway of sumac

a promising shadow almost resolved


a tremor indicating an edge about to let go

the angle of repose in granular material

and a village meets the valley floor

in disarray and disaster


Death is a whisper till it shouts




Allan Peterson is the author of five books, most recently: Other Than They Seem, winner of the Snowbound Chapbook Prize from Tupelo Press; Precarious, 42 Miles Press 2014, a finalist for The Lascaux Prize; Fragile Acts, McSweeney's, a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle and Oregon Book Awards.  A visual artist as well as a poet, he divides his time between Florida and Oregon.

Please reload

New Mexico State University

English Department

P.O. Box 30001, MSC 3E

Las Cruces, NM 88001

Puerto del Sol

Weirding it up since 1960.

Puerto del Sol is funded by New Mexico State University and the Mercedes Delos Jacobs Fund, and designed and operated by the students of the MFA in Creative Writing program.

Puerto del Sol is a proud member of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses.