Three Poems by Liana Roux

Found in Willow Springs 93

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81/2 Marina

for Risden

As we sit on the dock
and press frozen shrimp
into fish hooks
and cast the lines
into the dark, a single lamp
bobs out over the bay,
turned down into the shallows
which seem murky even from here,
a shifting cloud
of seagrass and sand.
He’s looking for flounder,
you explain. Gigging:
a long spear,
a flat boat, a bucket.
A flounder
looks like a dinner plate,
wide and dim.
It buries itself in the sand.
The motor hums the boat closer,
following the shore.
Something keeps eating the shrimp
clean off our hooks,
but we keep trying.
We’re drinking wine
the same color as the water,
which drinks light.
Homer’s wine-dark sea.
The bay is dredged
every few years,
this island unsustainable
and not unlike your love
of useless things,
of Huysmans’ bejeweled tortoise,
of this place, a jut of concrete
built out of the water.
Our hooks return empty
again and again.


I’m grinding my teeth straight through the enamel.
The dental hygienist asks if I’m experiencing any stress.

Has my wife noticed anything?
Does she hear tumbling rocks?

Gnashing, from Middle English from Old Norse,
may be onomatopoeic, grown—ground?—from sound.

On the tip of my left canine tooth is a divot,
a deepening pit that catches my tongue.

The dentist on YouTube says I don’t need a mouth guard.
I just need to practice relaxing my jaw.

A ball of yarn unwinds. A spring snaps it coil.
Don’t smile. Instead imagine it.

I can’t blame my sleeping body.
We all want to hurt ourselves a little bit.

Spring, Loring Pond

The first week the ice melts,
plastic bags and newspapers
float up like ghosts,
drifting and gray
near the softening bank.


I keep seeing a body
wrapped in a sheet.
On TV it’s always a woman with a dog
who finds it—the waterlogged arm
emerging from the reeds, the barking terrier,
the mud and the blue morning light.


In the ’70s men would cruise here.
One was beaten to death with a pipe.
So many places where it could have happened—
the dandelion fountain, the bridge,
the tree growing sideways,
skimming the pond.


Who remembers? Each year
men in yellow vest wade to their stomachs
and cut the cattails back.
The dry wind hushes
the water, cold and deep
and full of figures rising almost to the shore.

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