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Karen Lepri


             Also inlet: water
corralled not with

shepherds and not
             rope or

             fence; collected into
                          a forearm

or inner part, molded

             sand, clay decades
             of reeds
                          matted down.

Not everyone will
             call it that

              (resting, the swallow

grows, periwinkles
             & clams quiet

                          in shell)

—feel it there.


Ten tides, and no assurance. You call
The flattest stones to show you something

(Like purity.) They return a countertenor
That takes all concert to get used to—to hear

Beauty. Many small cuts cover my hands: failure
To wrest calcification from itself. Every time

You suggest gloves, I look up, sharp
Angles of light breaking across water

Through the bars of our bucket.
There’re more in my hands and I’m

Breaking off the largest ones. I want
This to be bloodier, saltier—you said it:

We’d hunt them down.

Asleep in a Canyon

After you

in the clear night, sky
soaking bay

into any dry

your sweat
-streaked head

                & body, smoke

what later becomes
the reason, I

come here &
everyone’s here

until they start to leave
till finally I leave & we

are really
doing it

of us

completely gone
naked under

             a whiteness

we try to claw
through rarefied

fibers of having
             let each other do

things, many
more than just

steal away
years, shorten

lives we

to stake & water.

I let you
eat alone,

seek a canon
to sleep in. You

leave me
sleep while

having another
take another night

sky into
             your veins, and hold it

there, counting
as the years

wash back
with tide

& the bay, how the bay


             stills—no shot;

no exhale.


Way out, upturned hull, I tell
you, mangled

             rigging, underwater

mast, colonies of snails
& algae. Throat your

only part shaded—respite
for the entering

             leaving, breath compelled by my

touch, piece of wood you forget
you’re eating. And later, boats strewn

high above the strandline, swimming
crisscross schizophrenic

             waters. Wait up, I say. You

ask if I want to hold your hand, & I
become olympic, muscled

god, sheltered heart

of possible drowning.

The Lying

Consider the limits of exaltation—barkmouth,
              firebush, foxlimb:  are these

The high pants of justice—
              we fall from pedestals

              landing soft, whole. 

Take a portion of heat, hold
              the air as mass as

A series of prayers you have never

              spoken, but suddenly

Speak like memory.  Just try to hold your tights
              at the crotch—each miraculous fit

Still fitting. When the earth
              is awash in its own maker,

And the ocean, a crazed

              mother, drowns all one hundred

Children. This grief is what you will
              navigate, bowed ships

Slicing bulge and sigh