By Caleb Beissert


Postmodern Landscape

An extra-large pizza box skids down a street in high wind
Cigarette pack curls softly under the streetlight
Grocery bags whip in rushes of a fishless river
Tire tracks sink across the not-so-vast meadow
A host of golden daffodils blooms from cracked strip mall concrete
A bird’s nest woven of plastic strands
Chirrups echoing in the walls


Ode to Córdoba

A woman watches from the bridge

Birds rise in waves from the river
at sunset

no longer inhabited by people
belong to the pigeons

Cries from a violin

in your Grand Mosque
your alcázar standing fast
your ancient steps
your little fountains

If there were peace


Coalition Forces

                    Breath I’ll take and breath I’ll give
                    And pray the day’s not poison
                    Stand among the ones that live
                    In lonely indecision
                                                                      —Townes Van Zandt

For now      there’s nothing left in the world but sorrow
Something reaches up from within and grabs hold of my lungs

Newborns wail and shadows glide along hallway ceilings
in hospitals        A million amoebas fill my lungs

In a puff      firecrackers flash and pop    drifting dead
back to earth      Arsenic and sulfur swirl in my lungs

Whirling dust blows across the saguaro desert      the lazy train
stations    and the blue coal mines      dust that settles in my lungs

Deep in the woods      moss-covered stones sit in circles
significance forgotten             Mildewed leaves enter my lungs

There’s no need to cover yourself             We’re all just naked bodies
swimming in the womb of the world        I breathe you into my lungs

If I die soon      I won’t mind             Without wealth
we ran along the hilltops             I exhale from my lungs


Child Watches

The cliff faces            mercy of canyons

I am a leaf in the waterfall
     where the birds are fleeing

I follow the trails
            a market of emptiness

black curtains possess us
     where the marks of life appear

                           sun setting on day gone too soon

ambitions become a secondary

the night we have become

as we linger on the facets
tiny details      in the poems we carve

never knowing if the choices are right
                                        in the end did we love right

     sand never falls the same way twice

what comes are visions and skeletons
sliced snake                    moans in the next room

reminder of a story once


Caleb Beissert worked as a bartender at a kava bar in Asheville, North Carolina; he was born in Washington, D.C., during the mid-1980s crack epidemic; and he has traveled extensively in Andalusia, Spain, researching the poetry of Federico García Lorca. His poems or translations have been published in International Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review, Red Earth Review, and anthologized in Beatitude: Golden Anniversary, 1959-2009, and Animal Poems (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014). His first book, Beautiful: Translations from the Spanish, poems of Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda, was published by New Native Press in 2013.

He is currently serving as Co-editor of Redheaded Stepchild, an online literary journal that only accepts work that has been rejected elsewhere. He resides in Asheville, NC, where he regularly hosts readings and continues to write, translate, and teach poetry. 

© 2015