Two Poems by Lauren K. Carlson

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Dawn on the 45th Parallel

Daybreak makes
me see three-
dimensions flat.

I see black
paper instead
of poplars.

The world
a child’s cut-out
scrap. My son

and I cast long
featureless shadows,

Light breaking
the same way waters carve
banks and clay:

what it hits, it moves—
as unbidden creatures
diffuse through

wetland’s sloughs.
Leopard frog, muskrat,
great blue




The Ground is Not Down

There was someone,
in girlhood, I loved.

It was easy, like not giving up.
I didn’t even need

to try. All I needed
was to not stop

until I was dead.
Staying isn’t the same

as striving. It’s yielding
as a body must yield

because gravity. Like how up
and down aren’t rendered

by how I perceive them.
They’re rendered by force.

How the earth’s center
pulls everything toward it.

How a bridge’s supports
pitch to account for earth’s curve.

How the earth bids all things
made or born

surrender, surrender.




Lauren K. CarlsonLauren K. Carlson is the author of a chapbook Animals I Have Killed and has published recent work in River Mouth Review, Salamander, Waxwing and Ploughshares Blog. Winner of the 2022 Levis Stipend for her work-in-progress, she reads for Palette Poetry and is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. For more info, see

Header photo by William T. Smith, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of Lauren K. Carlson by Erik Carlson. is the first online literary journal of place, publishing award-winning literature, art, editorials, and community case studies since 1998.