Archive for April, 2011

Andrea Witzke Slot

Apr 01, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

Hawks Nest, St. John, USVI

The hills tongue their way to sea,
as if the sea begs the land to slide
into its waiting open mouth.
The slick blue mirror
is deceiving:
with my head beneath
its opaque walls,
I can see for miles.
Every flicker or fin
is a sunspot or rainbow
against such light.

I sleep under the empty mast,
listening to the slim lines bang
against the still night.
From deep inside the intestines
of the Laughing Pelican II
I look upward and pretend
I am its heartbeat.
I know better.  It knows better.

The curved white hand
catches the wind. Our
boat lifts forward, leaning
into the blue of merged sea and sky.
We concede to what we believe
to be the boat’s assured power.
The sea and wind know better.

“Hawks Nest” was first published in PENA International (N.R. 2, 2005).  It was later published (in translation) in a series of places, including NacionalFjala (The Word), and Illyria, as well as in the anthology Contemporary American Poetry (Poezia bashkekohore amerikane: antologji (published by the International Centre of Culture in Albania in 2006).


Burial grounds heave
between nothing and the shore.
Wind deafens and land crashes into sky.
The landscape is as bleak and astonishing
as the back of your hand.

Cut deeper into sage and brush.
Dive into clouds that enshroud
neolithic tombs, feel dark tunnels
vibrate and weave beneath your feet.
Know that the voices converge
with nudges and handshakes.
They know,
belong, evade.

Move closer to edge.
Duck under the land’s end chain
that keeps the others out.
Reach through, beyond,
the slam of rain and wind
to where the city lies,
sunken and glowing,
amongst the death of ships.

Waves spit forth proof
of its existence, the sea
curls its many fingers.

You are as near as the
landscape will allow.
Flex bare hands at the thought.
Lyonnesse does not notice,
does not care, will not
rise to meet you
even if you fall.

The Nightlight

I see him drifting out to sea
in a small boat caught in the waves,
in the waves of wakefulness that pull,
that pull his boat farther,
that pull his boat farther from the shore.
He sits there, looking down at a book,
by a bedside lamp that shines like the moon,
a bedside lamp that sits beside a bed,
a bedside lamp that becomes the moon,
that sits beside him inside his rocking boat.

I call to him from a freightliner
that pulls through the deadliest storms
without the smallest sway of a bow.
I think I call to him.
Put down your book
, I say.
Pick up the oars,
I say.
He doesn’t hear.
I begin to yell, I’m sure I’m yelling.
Then jump ship
, I yell. Just swim over here.
A life vest is waiting!
Then I will float near.
I will scoop you up.
just lift your hands to me,
just one small movement:
reach up here to me, flop on board,
smooth yourself on the shores of my liner.

He doesn’t look up.
My seas are too calm,
he seems to say,
but I will continue my watch.
Through the mist I will watch,
through my portholes I will watch.
I will watch portside, I will watch starboard,
I will watch you reading by a lamp,
a bedside lamp that looks like a globe,
a globe that looks like the moon,
a moon that hides its switch,
a moon that gives you permission,
neat and full consent,
to jump ship, to swim with the whales,
to swim to lands’ end itself,
where the world can be snapped off,
the ocean snapped shut, the waves
snuffed out. Just one pull of just one switch.


Andrea Witzke Slot (also published under the name Andrea Witzke Leavey) is currently teaching at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is landlocked for too much of the year but enjoys nothing more than spending time with her family on the east coast of North Carolina and various other watery landscapes in the U.S. and abroad.  Her poetry, fiction, and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Chiron Review, Houston Literary Review, Southern Women’s Review, The Pacific ReviewBorderlands: Texas Poetry ReviewTranslation ReviewThe Valdosta VoiceIllyriaPENA International, and Fjala, among other journals. In 2006, a series of her poems appeared in translation in the anthology Contemporary American Poetry/Poezia bashkekohore amerikane, published by the Albanian Ministry of Culture, and her scholarly work has been accepted for inclusion in a collection of essays on Julia Alvarez. She won UTD’s Excellence in the Arts Award for poems published in Illyria and PENA International in 2004 and was a finalist in the Sean Christopher Britton Memorial Poetry Prize in 2002. Her first poetry manuscript, To Find a New Beauty, the title of which is borrowed from a line of H.D.’s, explores the strange beauty of desire in the world and in relationships. She is currently working on a second poetry manuscript titled Lexiphilia and an academic book titled The Subject in Dialogue: Remapping Subjectivity and Social Thought through Dialogic Poetry.

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