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Once everything was an occasion
for poetry
like a river gushing forth
from its spring
until petering out into mud
on a Tuesday
in my forties
Don’t pity me, I say to myself
What about those insects you so adored,
That was just life & death
But I couldn’t have known then
Nobody could have told me
Even now when the riverbed
has been shaped by what it held
the grind the ground
How is sand made, my daughter asks
I answer it’s water touching rocks for thousands of years
She disagrees, it’s salt from the sea
Yes, wrong but closer to the source
where sweet water surges up and out
knowing only the rush
not slowing
not losing
not ending
not over
not gone


September 12, 2018 (notes app)

I took a shower and missed a call
The message left was garbled
In the most perfect weather I ordered a coffee and headed to class
I sat down took a sip the war began
The war began because
There was no beginning look closely there was no pause
Only an inhalation
Language is made coarse by lies
They rot inside me
My mouth is a cesspool
A trash compactor
My eyes see only the shadows





Elizabeth Clark Wessel is the author of four chapbooks, most recently first one thing, then the other (Per Diem Press), and the translator of numerous novels, memoirs, and poems from the Swedish, including I Want You To Come Now! (Bloof Books) by Kristina Lugn. She is also a founding editor of Argos Books. Originally from rural Nebraska, she spent many years living in New York and Connecticut, and these days calls Stockholm, Sweden home.