By Atsuro Riley Atsuro Riley
We come gnawed by need on hands and knees.

As a creature (nosing) grubble-seeks a spring.

As bendy-spined as bandy snakes through saltshrub yaupon

For darkling green;
for thorn-surround.

This absorbing


Of   briar-canes (intervolved with kudzu-mesh) and mold.

Of   these convoluted vines we grasp to suck.

To taste the pith —
the lumen the cell-sap pulse.

To try to know

some (soursharp) something about something.

Lumen is as lumen does.

‘A little room for turmoil to grow lucid in.’

In here where Clary set her cart-tongue down (and dug, and brailled).
In here where Tynan breathed.

We grasp to suck to taste what light.

Let loose the bale that bows us down.

— Bow down.

Source: Poetry (September 2013).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2013
 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, Religion, The Spiritual


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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