Joannie Stangeland: "Drowning"




Suck down, swing high, trough

and crest, quick silver slung

between the pendulum’s peaks.


Tides turn, and the moon gathers

pale skirts from the slack.


This ocean’s pumping heart

tugs me under. I am flotsam,

a small bagatelle in the wash.


Oh, leaden arms, flaccid legs.

Would that I moved

with the jelly bell’s ballerina grace.


The sea’s vast clock swallows

apology, doesn’t stop.


I think I see the buoy, even the beach

(a chair, an umbrella) but I flap and gasp

in the swirl—too fluid to swim or surrender.



Joannie Stangeland's poems have most recently appeared in Fault Lines, Journal of the American Medical Association, Pirene’s Fountain, and Fire on Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry. Her new book, Into the Rumored Spring, was published by Ravenna Press in 2011. She is also the author of two poetry chapbooks and serves as poetry editor for the journal The Smoking Poet.