Piper Wheeler



To find
a golden boat on the black river.
To moor
and sink both oars. To find
a golden boat and tie

To be one’s golden boat to be
found to be
the black river. To be at bottom

muck! Sunk
to the oarlocks I won’t
reach the sea


I the keel the bank the reeds and suction.
The skimmers and the rings they widen.
Fisher-cat and his gutted
trout. Loosened tooth,
rainbow scale; mud holds
like a womb that erodes; this is the part
of the river
that’s not.
What’s a river if river’s stopped?
And on shores this still, what’s a dock?


I mind the shore I sink in I shore the mind
since mine’s lapped in algae and spilt oil


the shore I’d call
if word were a dock I’d hie to.

Never mind. If mind were apt
to cling to symbol, mine’s sunk to the lungs.
Mine’s hugged
by mud like by
something red. Mine’s built
from filth and tongue, held
under, bloated and stilled.
My what? It’s dead

or barely kicking —

Oh for
a far and golden shore.
Oh for a wooden oar.
Oh for
a golden boat to moor.

Not My Fault He Wants A Girl


Not my fault he wants a girl
like a river, a cloud, a bank

of snow. If I’m a bank
I’m mudslides. Granite. Shards. Pure

want’s slick it’s hard:
I can’t help but slam

open like a storm door!
Can’t help snap thrum…

A woman’s got to bend
like hills under sky, a tiny wind

barely just musses just one
leaf. I shudder like a hillside,

flood the stormdrains shred the records
I surge and I flinch and I wind

up on top.


Feel a pinch? That’s a boy recalling
you, sweet thing, you confection

beaten and frothed. Forget stiff peaks:
you’re whipped. Never as lovely

as the bird in his eye’s small cage.
The winged thing his mind keeps pinned

to its page. If he could see, his mind
would be spiders. Swarms

and hammers.
Sorry friends

the bowl I was in
sloshed and tipped

I burnt myself
up I flew off

a flock of smoke
noisome and alone.