Under this world, beneath our feet
on sidewalks and in the old parts
of some Gulf Coast towns, there are
these ancient tunnels cut by pirates
into the earth’s wet heart. Once they
connected the human longing for
escape, with the dark possibilities
of renewal. Slaves know the feeling
of death long before others imagine
the dank earthen passageway out
of all that is worse. The traffic in
deep feelings is the same, those things
we say haphazardly, forgetfully,
come back to run the gamut of those
buried tunnels, the words that then
perforate the lover’s skin. Nothing
moves above, as if frozen in a single
instant of thinking, the blood beneath
surges, however, the tunnels run with
a rush we feel, unforgiven. The cities
are now full of love, but the slaves
have never left. They are the ones
who smuggle out the contraband
of what we were, and ship it off
to countries who have long known us
not for what we barter in the world
but for the tunnels out of which
those things have come.
Listen to George Moore read this poem:
The world is our shadow.
Hunger is our mother.
We eat only the small luminescent
stars in the bloodstream.
Our currents carve the world
into its features. What was
hidden is now seen. What was
once eaten is now devoured.
The grouper off the coast
of Garrafón fill the dark rays
of the boat’s shadow with
their column and sway like
a tree in a breeze of water,
dispersing as you enter them.
We have faded beneath
silently, decades blooming
in an acid rose like thin
coloring in clear crystals,
like mercury climbing down
off the back of our mirror,
and entering the bloodstream.
Up Galloway reach, lochs
are still, not streams but dead
water wrestles deep, deeper
still, to the depths on bones
of rocks, the barren undersea
remnants of fish graveyards
decompose into the effluvium.
Where do whales escape
anoxic shock, or the mussel
as its shell weakens, or coral
when its skeletal seascrapers
crumble, and entropy’s
stale soup evolves? Waterways
lead to the sea like blood
to the brain, and we
swim in the change.
George Moore's poetry has appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, North American Review, Diode, Antigonish Review, The Scrambler, Stickman Review, and Zone, and he has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize. A finalist for the 2007 Richard Snyder Memorial Prize, from Ashland Poetry Press, and earlier for The National Poetry Series, The Brittingham Poetry Award, and the Anhinga Poetry Prize, Moore's third poetry collection is Headhunting (Edwin Mellen, 2002), and he has a recently reissued e-book, All Night Card Game in the Back Room of Time (poetschapbooks.com, 2008). He teaches literature and writing with the University of Colorado, Boulder.