By Atsuro Riley Atsuro Riley
Her cart like a dugout canoe.

Had been an oak trunk.

Cut young.      Fire-scoured.

What was bark what was heartwood :    P u r e   C h a r - H o l e

Adze-hacked and gouged.

Ever after (never not) wheeling hollow there behind her.

Up the hill toward Bennett Yard; down through Eight-Mile,
     the Narrows.

C o m e s   C l a r y   b y   h e r e   n o w

Body bent past bent.      Intent upon horizon and carry.

Her null eye long since gone isinglassy, opal.

—The potent (brimming, fluent) one looks brown.

C o u r s e s   C l a r y   s u r e   a s   b a y o u   t h r o u g h   h e r e  n o w

Bearing (and borne ahead by) hull and hold behind her.

Plies the dark.

Whole nights most nights along the overpass over Accabee.

C r o s s e s   C l a r y   b l e s s   h e r   b a r r o w   u p   t h e r e   n o w

Pausing and voweling there—   the place where the girl fell.

(                  )

Afterwhile passing.

Comes her cart like a whole-note held.

Source: Poetry (September 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2008
 Atsuro  Riley


Atsuro Riley grew up in South Carolina lowcountry and lives in San Francisco. His heavily stressed, percussive, consonant-rich, free-verse poems conjure up the elemental images of the lives of people inhabiting a specific, acutely portrayed landscape. His poems are dense with impressions, voices, and glimpses of people who have experienced the Vietnam War, rural life, and the South. Though grounded in a world that seems . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals


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