Back to Issue Thirty-Seven




Out on the Baltic
the sea has forgotten itself

in the dissolving sky,
oil tankers like whales

like ghosts of whales
vaguing through light.

Horizon collapsing
into salt into plastic into vein,

Jonah so toxic and plural,
bird song, tree song, smoke song–

Once, down the road here,
bodies from Sachsenhausen

spilled out of a lorry.
And they knew, they knew–

Ash sun, ash earth,
ashen mouths of children

stained awful with berries.
Stack flare in a nightless night.

It used to be no one
spoke like this. There was

some distance, lines
between brutalities.

There was decorum,
a matter of perspective.

Now the world is slab gray,
a tongue where we break red

belong and sever back to
the singing inside us.


James Hoch is the author of the forthcoming Last Pawn Shop in New Jersey (LSU 2022) as well as Miscreants (Norton) and A Parade of Hands (Silverfish Review Press).

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