Allan Peterson



Largely content to jostle down in their metals

they can be riled up by the inept and unworthy.

There is always a chance they might leap out

from their wires into the body of the criminal

blackening a path to his core as easy as they would

the innocent handyman. That's me and that's why

I worry about their many small eyes in the walls

and the number I have put out with plugs

shunting them into the coffee maker,

setting them afire in lights.

I am uneasy about them, wishing they would

stay back in the copper string work of the walls

or maybe sing out occasionally from the radio

that all's well, or travel up lines in the heavenly

groins of industrial steeples where they might like it,

high, distant, pointing up at the lightning.


Face to Face


No more coughing to speed my heart

No more shivering for warmth

No more catching my breath as if a fugitive

I am taking confrontations as they come

like oncoming traffic in daylight

I am watching intently from the eye

with the cataract I can still see around

I squint in my dreams again

I am face to face with the snake

If I blink I will give myself away

Poems are like that: down on all fours

staring into living without spooking


Last Night


Last night moth-softened dizzied the lamps

Hours reset themselves like knit bones

I misinterpreted sleep  I ate dreaming bread

I thought paper wads practice roses

There was water beneath my past headaches

My town was folded I had seen the map

A seam ran from Ashland to a whale offshore

I knew this dark  it rebuilds our house at night

Soon sun and the lights would be coming

From the radiant as they say about meteors


One One Thousand


The four-throated siren clears out a little more space for memories

They spill out  and you see how lives are  packed within them  

You'd think the past was all we had more compelling than tomorrow 

but that is so far away they continue even as the new ones alter the old 


I remember Zephros Notos Boreas Apeliotes and I still recall your cheek

with the blush of a house finch  and pride  sloth  envy  gluttony 

lust  avarice  anger  yes lust especially  and how we could count

one one thousand from the flash through the signaling inches to reach us

Allan Peterson's fourth book, Fragile Acts, one of the five finalists for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award, is the second title in the new McSweeney's Poetry Series. His last book is As Much As from Salmon Press, 2011. Other books are All the Lavish in Common (2005 Juniper Prize), Anonymous Or (2001 Defined Providence Prize) and five chapbooks, notably Omnivore, winner of the 2009 Boom Prize from Bateau Press. His next book, Precarious, is forthcoming from 42 Miles Press in 2014. His poems also appear in Innisfree 6 and Innisfree 8.



Current Issue
Contributors' Notes

Email this poem Printer friendly page

A CLOSER LOOK: Linda Pastan

Don Berger

George Bishop

Lavina Blossom

Judy Brackett

Shirley J. Brewer

Mark Jay Brewin, Jr.

Emily Rose Cole

Philip Dacey

Colin Dodds

Phillip A. Ellis

Susan Mitchell Evans

Roger Fogelman

Lucia Galloway

Joshua Gray on Yvette Neisser Moreno

William Greenway

David Brendan Hopes

Kinzy Janssen

Carol J. Jennings

Judy Kronenfeld

Hailey Leithauser on James Arthur

Elaine Magarrell

Victoria Kohn Michels

Simon Perchik

Allan Peterson

Roger Pfingston

W.J. Preston

Oliver Rice

Michael Salcman

Catherine Simpson

Lee Slonimsky

Katherine Smith

Myrna Stone

Robert Joe Stout

Matthew Thorburn

Lawrence Wray

Remembering Ed Zimmerman















Last Updated: Feb 22, 2020 - 12:30:13 PM

Copyright 2005 - 2020 Cook Communication.