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Valerie Coulton :: five poems


woods                         nostalgia for the present          a day collapsing into memory red       you are buying and carrying    interrupting yourself as you go           she told me her dreams of the dead    I’m becoming snow           that was my ambition what I longed to enter waiting for the next word       for the series of symbols   you ignite        hived and agile                        it’s a bracelet of dawns and a             something else hidden in the body     unavailable      unavoidable people who haven’t thought of being someone else             they are pre-Freudian he said                         and we admitted this would end someday the way he had smoked until a certain hour with great pleasure and then simply stopped

Regarding the novel

What I used to return to with varying degrees of eagerness or hesitation is now swinging shut like a self-locking door.

A certain corner, then a few steps down the cobbled passage strewn with garbage–this the way to a particular part of Paris or the night market in that Japanese railway city, depending on the hour.

A landscape filling up with snow. Months before this and centuries later, my gaze followed two young women walking away from the road, far away, rolling a suitcase, disappearing through a meadow into a stand of birches.

Placing the self before a fast-moving industrial conveyance, avoiding the question of which bridge to jump from. I don’t remember any wolves in the story but certainly dogs, at least one dog. In her photo of herself, the baby screaming, the whites of the dog’s eyes in the corner of the frame, the dog who was trying to sleep.

Wool is never mentioned. Muslin. Fur. Velvet. Lace. Colors of clothing. An enormous pear. Bear baiting, probably, and shooting, skating, steeplechase. The cold letter opener you might press against your cheek to remind you to dig up some of your own memories, dormant and bereft: photos of people you can’t name in their powdery shrouds.

When music had to be performed to be heard. He ordered most of the dishes that could be ordered. The private rooms were full of others. These used to be such a delicacy, they were like money.

Munich diary


Barbie & cigarettes
green cowboy boots    mild headache
every hour
falling shy       portraiture       clouds

dogs & their jackets
Spanish guitar
newspaper       mustard                       places to get on & off
hotel with one room rented
local specialties

following the story of a tunneler in the Great War
leaving to come home again
one hundred years       a glass of water

here to see images of midwinter                     sexual climax               alpine skiing

I came for the mountains
I was misinformed


These are the songs they played then

You do not recognize me

I say me because I have slipped inside the character you fail to recognize

Waiting as reason, motive, way of life

Already a small group

Selected, one might say

Rare spice, sprinkled over the planet

Departing & returning, pockets full, nearly asleep

A music you willed arrives across the winter land

Without thick coat or socks

A coffee almost Turkish

I find the people friendly, helping themselves to the words

now we can enjoy our selves

what you depart from is not the way


a misunderstanding
nourished by hunger

immigrant/exile/                      the dream of departure and                return

in books about the desert a subtle color wheel

those who waited patiently/impatiently

(all her photos depict native plants)

                                                 he ordered water without sparkle

in this life with a missing limb, a soldier in your last life

                                    attached to a wheel

comprehensible as a flashing outwards

whatever it was
                                    I wanted it to happen to me

self-portrait with broken

I see you are nearly erased


no longer listening when your
name comes up
or scattering fresh sawdust
for me to find

someone else is mending
your eyes                    

recording over
                 the little dreams
you fished
in the bright world

Valerie Coulton’s chapbook, small bed & field guide, has recently been published by above/ground press. Previous books are open book, The Cellar Dreamer, passing world pictures (all from Apogee Press), and the lily book (San Francisco State University Press). With Edward Smallfield, she is the author of the chapbooks lirio and anonymous (both from Dancing Girl Press). She lives in Barcelona and is one of the editors of parentheses, a multi-lingual journal of poetry and fiction.

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submissions :: where is the river

Up to six poems in a single .doc file with author biography and photo to All rights revert to the author/s upon publication.

issue twenty-seven :: January/February 2022

  Christopher Patton :: Glitch Apple Howie Good :: Three poems Kenneth M Cale :: Three visual poems Christian Ward :: Three poems Matthew Walsh :: POACHED EGGS Jeremy Scott :: Five poems

about :: where is the river

where is the river :: a poetry experiment is a bi-monthly poetry journal open to a variety of aesthetics, forms and experiences, with a preference towards showcasing work by emerging writers. There is no single path, nor any single way. Founded in September 2017. Edited by Kiefer JD Logan.