Three Poems by Allan Peterson

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hawk is Talking

Whether the passing hawk is talking
about the unquenchability of need,
or complaining its short wings unbecoming,
or announcing how this time the mouse
will stay put to hope it so, it must anticipate
early, almost before it launches, or the trees
will flash by before it arrives and its perfect
gold feet will clutch on nothing.



Announcing the Unspeakable

When the caravel unloaded no one
protested the farfetched
story of the armored ox horn on its forehead
lace horse or the squirrel
with furled sails they knew strangeness
how a even a single flower
could become named and famous
but when the captain slandered nature
by recounting the notorious
strangler fig that transgressed the garden
with long and deliberate crimes
it was so human as to be too close to home
and life and death suddenly intersected
like the woman appearing from nowhere
handing out funeral lilies at Whole Foods




Winds and the half-winds and half that charted.
Heart and the half-hearted notched and noticed.
Still it’s precarious to set out from Carthage
with just love and a lodestone, wet rope for ballast.
If the stutterer sings, it’s smooth sailing.
If the whistler sits in the bowsprit, there’s trouble.
The sentence will not complete, nor the voyage.
Always something more, another noun.
Now songbirds find the owl and scold the oaks.
Imagine the terror of jaws before the compass,
shoals as the premeditated curseworks of heaven.




Allan Peterson is the author of two books: All the Lavish in Common (2005 Juniper Prize) and Anonymous Or (Defined Providence Press) and four chapbooks. Recent print and online appearances include Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Bellingham Review, Perihelion, Stickman Review, Marlboro Review, and Massachusetts Review. A free downloadable chapbook, Any Given Moment, is available at

Photo credit: Hawk Flying above Calero Park via photopin (license). is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.