Dry as Poverty

Because floods

overwhelm city

streets and fjords

alike I promise

always to observe

skyscrapers alongside

peonies. To divest

from corporate

prayer. To believe


only when

necessary. After all,

what’s prayer comparable to?

Dandelions wilt

as I walk past them,

you can’t save

yourself, that’s just

living. You can’t name

the book of love, it’s made

of names.

Of names

scrawled on insensible

parchment. I know,

Sunday’s a day of rest.

It’s probably better

to forget one’s own

name than to remember

one’s forgotten one’s own

name. The wind

carried me here.

The book of love said. I followed

close behind,

tracing each nettle.

The tide rises,

overflows my desk.

I’m standing knee deep.

Scott Corbet Riley is a PhD student at UC Santa Cruz, studying US poetry. He has published essays and poems in Berkeley Poetry Review, Rattle, and Landscapes. He holds an MFA from St. Mary’s College and lives in Redwood City, CA.

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2 Responses to Dry as Poverty

  1. Alan Feldman says:

    I liked this poem. It makes axiomatic declarations that are nevertheless mysterious, “to believe dichotomies only when necessary.” And the speaker seems both an invidiual but somehow to speak for all of us, “knee deep” in love and in our lives. Bravo!

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