Poems: Thomas Walton

What Happens When You Die
(for Lavonne Miller)

I sat listening
on the rocky crags
to a speedboat
hidden in the fog
buzzing closer
then passing
(the speedboat)
out into
the fog
slow until
a seagull finally
laughed it up


Swimming Hole

we parked the car
the sound of
gravel-lurch quick
ended and we
walked down
not far
to where the river
elbows, a thick
stand of
alders hid
a blue tarp
inside which
the man’s body
wrapped and
gnawed at
for days by
coyotes or
some less
visible force
we all will
soon know well
maybe we
shouldn’t swim here


One Pill Makes You

I was in the record store
staring at the cover of
Surrealistic Pillow
noticing the peculiar
shade of pink, but mostly the font
annoyed they chose
“Surrealistic” and not
“Surrealist,” wishing I
had been there to say
“how about Surrealist Lightpost or
Surrealist Gloom
or perhaps more artfully
Ceci N’est Pas une Pipe”
I was convinced
I could improve
at very least
what I perceived as
too properly adjectival, as well the
saccharine, too soft pillow.
I was convinced of this when I noticed
I was coming back around
in the record store
despite myself
to an appreciation of
the world as is, as Cage
proposed, and Blake
(in so many words)
the world perfect but for
the way in which we see it.
“Surrealistic” now
was just fine, was in fact
the perfect word, le mot juste
and pillow too, just right and (actually)
couldn’t be better.
There were two copies
of what surely was and is
the best named album of all time,
the Sonnets to Orpheus of
classic rock, and the
Flowers of Evil of psychedelia
I bought both copies
why not?
one to remind me of my
poor judgement
and one to eat for dinner that night.


Thomas Walton is the author of four previous books: Good Morning Bone Crusher! (Spuyten Duyvil 2021) is a book of poems written in homage to the sun. These three poems all come from the book. All the Useless Things Are Mine (Sagging Meniscus, 2020) is a book of 17-word aphorisms and otherisms. The World Is All That Does Befall Us (Ravenna Press, 2019) is a lyric essay written in opposition to the writing of lyric essays. The Last Mosaic (written with Elizabeth Cooperman, published by Sagging Meniscus, 2018) is a poetic travel guide to the city of Rome and its environs. His work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, Delmar, Timberline Review, Rivet, Stringtown Magazine, Queen Mob's Teahouse, Bombay Gin, Pontoon, and other magazines. He is a contributing editor for the international literary/arts magazine Exacting Clam. He lives in Seattle, WA, where he edits PageBoy Magazine. 

Image by Kalle Kortelainen on Unsplash

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