Poetry from Rick Barot, assistant professor of English


It is true, no one suspects the days
will be such gods.  But like the gods, the beautiful
is always halfway to lying, to what must be cold.

First there is this, and then there will be
the dark.  The solstice sun is a long fool’s gold
on the open water, the shore’s red weeds have clotted

into stinking drifts, shorn like beards.
Like nerves, the flies twitch and feed on them.
There is this civilization and its desires, here

at the edge.  This is to say that even a dead thing
can be the site of another thing’s hunger.
At the horizon, it is just about time to begin

the fire.  One more god saying, This is all I can do
with my hands.
  The water takes the color
of this doing.  And then there will be the fog

arriving.  The earth is tilted enough: more
of the shore is showing.  The mud catches silver
in the furrows.  A boat cuts the water, like scissors

into fabric.  There are all of these ways
in which the light and the dark keep being
distributed: already, a moon divided.  It is not prayer

claiming each thing in a grasp, but it is like.
To this the birds add their brief, offhand marks.
As though it is ground, not fire, they are walking on.


We stare over the railing
to the moss-green water below:
fish, thin as pens, rise
to the surface, then jerk away
ineluctably to some other
depth.  For a moment
inhabiting the outline shapes
our shadows make
on the water, they are like
thoughts inside
our bodies, actively quiet,
moving but not touching
each other, different but coming
from the same being,
the same dark, clear element.