If Valley Then Landslide
If valley, then landslide,
trees losing their footing as when the grandstand collapsed
along with the looks on the faces of people
fully in the power of nothing controllable,
some obviously having a complete and sudden understanding
of cows forced into the death chute at Swift’s.
If plains, then the wall of water that was Little Sand Creek,
the terror in the common.
If thinking, hillside overlooking the poor flooded towns
now only roofs like books turned up on the table
as if a library had been hurriedly evacuated.
Then fire, which of course swoops up on mountain cabins
from below making thermals too fierce to float on.
These thoughts come together in the doorway of the hospital,
muscles of the forehead tightened, those of the jaw loosened,
distant sounds arising from helplessness.
All That Are Aching
They have gone back to being pinpoint mysteries
No one steers by them now and we are lost again
Out of the whiteout one house finch still believable
to all that are aching from taking things seriously
I had a vision of hungers to come a poem in the map
and I was up at four in the dark to feed on imagination
The casualties of November were unceasingly familiar
such as leaves on everything all wasted by coincidence
The new to me all givens to them and above the doors
quandries marked by the compass’ dangerous daisy
Purpose is so small it can fit in a gnat’s head
many smaller even down to the wavelength of light
This is where microscopy fits in The trireme
inspired by cilia
the minds of the rowers straining wind
but I can forget the ocean
for a sculpture of a goddess at Pergamon
throwing a vase of snakes
or just a kiss
and the landscape dispersing serpents
It doesn’t last
the ocean returns and the planets disappear
the day sky vanishes
and the night sky clogs with darkness
and not just kisses
I can save angels from water
with a dip net in my aquarium
and nothing will exist for that moment
but that act
Allan Peterson is the author of five books, including: Precarious (42 Miles Press, 2014) and Fragile Acts (McSweeney’s Poetry Series). He was a finalist for both the 2013 National Book Critics Circle and Oregon Book Awards. He has published multiple chapbooks, most recently Other Than They Seem, winner of the 2014 Snowbound Chapbook Prize from Tupelo Press. His work has been published in Ireland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Wales. He lives in Ashland, OR and Gulf Breeze, FL. His website is www.allanpeterson.net.