TWO POEMS by Tamiko Beyer

Look Alive, Dark Side

Since our boat days
we’ve trusted
the stars’ chart
across dusk-to-dawn.
Now we climb. Stone as cold
as metal rivets. When men go
they do not know how
they will die, but they will die.
In space, all machinery
floats away.


Blue flash, quick skate through atmosphere. This is not your father’s moon

dead drought, tattered flag litter. What’s the point of the horizon line
if not for demarcation. This side: water-drawers. That side: debris.

To drink, to breathe, to fuel. Home, we watch the pale coin of midnight rise,
our mouths slick with desire, measuring instruments ready

– nothing like a tall glass of mooncold.


Beachwalking we
who siphon the wet
step around dumb
lumps gleaming
in moonlight’s pull:
creatures the tide
abandons to the shore.
We are nothing
at all like them.


Note: Italicized phrase from Greg Delory, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, commenting on the discovery of water on the moon, Nov. 2009.


We Come Elemental

we step into humid light
it sticks to our skin
and microbes gorge
in graywater runoff pools

the chlorophyll chorus sings
our collected chemical stew –
nitrogen! nitrogen! nitrogen!

                    each molecule polished
               each o each pair of h a banquet of lust

                                                                              wet sludge::
                                                            stream suds::
                                                            oil slick rain::

                                                                              ::eat the bread of our body’s slough
                                                            ::eat our bread the crumbed down drain
                                                            ::eat of our bread our rainbowed fuel

                                                            ‘til pools of clear
                                                            flow back to the rivers
                                                            those quick veins of industry
                                                            (Passaic   Hudson)

wash over ancient mollusk shells

and we learn again
green’s good
was light veined
through leaves

–Tamiko Beyer



I’ve been writing a series of poems about water and humans and our relationships and desires for (the) water (in us). A poetics of the porous, perhaps. We are (the human body is) more than half water. As we pollute as we waste as we destroy the waters of the earth and the lives dependent on water (all), what does that say about our utter disregard for (our)selves? I want to know if/how my poetry can blur the boundaries between inside and outside (waters), enact the fluidity across the earth and between bodies. And always, I want to dissolve the separation of poet/citizen/activist. Can ((sub)alter(n)ed) language spur a rush, a flow to action? Claudia Rankine, paraphrasing Myung Mi Kim, says “what alerts, alters.” Alert alert alert.


Tamiko Beyer’s poetry has appeared in The Collagist, Little Red Leaves, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. She serves as the poetry editor of Drunken Boat and leads community writing workshops with the New York Writers Coalition. She is a founding member of Agent 409: a queer, multi-racial writing collective, a Kundiman Fellow, and an M.F.A candidate at Washington University in St. Louis. Find her online at and blogging at

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