atlantis made easy

orange was the color of her address, then blue silt : : whiskey burned brown down the street, then a dangerous drink whirled around a paper umbrella : : intoxication blue across the porch then rose in the attic : : bloated tuesday taught us, she’s never been dry and never will be : : brass, bass, ivory, skins : : i hate to see that ninth ward wall go down : : army corpse engineers ran a ‘train on her : : aw chere : : sweet ghost, saturated, deserted : : teething ground for the expected spectre, we knew it’d show up better late (against a black backdrop), whenever : : wait in the water, wait in the water, children : : stub your soul on a granite memory, a marble key change, an indigo mood : : trouble (the water)

–Evie Shockley



Many of us think of water as a bountiful, endlessly renewable natural resource.  Those who live in desert climates tell a different story—and those who live with the less beneficent consequences of water’s abundance, a different one yet.  But the big picture requires a less geocentric view.  In the universe, as far as our science can tell us, liquid water is, not plentiful, but rare.  Our biosphere, this earth, is the only place we currently know water to exist in usable form, as a surface liquid.  Water is essential to supporting life as we know it.  If we destroy the earth’s hydrosphere, if we destabilize the system that recycles and redistributes our water, we destabilize and ultimately destroy the biosphere.  We often speak of poetry as an art form that documents and interrogates what it means to be alive.  Water is as much a part of that story—is as necessary, as complicated, as fragile—as love.


Evie Shockley is the author of two poetry collections, a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006) and the new black (forthcoming, Wesleyan University Press), as well as two chapbooks, 31 words * prose poems (2007) and The Gorgon Goddess (2001). Her poetry also appears widely in journals and anthologies, recently including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. She co-edits jubilat and teaches African American literature and creative writing (poetry) at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

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