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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

8 lines for...

By: Tyler Dunston

8 lines for the rooftops of the Tennessee Aquarium

Leaning pyramids of diamond, scored

with intersecting lines of ash. Monuments

on reserve for the future, crypts for clouds.

The conservation staff use them as turtle nurseries.

At night, they shine electric quartz

to compensate for the stubbing out of stars

by light pollution. When I come back, 500 years from now,

these roofs will be the only thing I recognize.

8 lines to a dracaena

Gem-studded, fat king, dragon of houseplants—

you give me something to look at when the air

is heavy on my shoulders, when all things

swim and glimmer. When my arms tuck in like

fold-out sofa beds. Meanwhile, your corona

of backlit talons, extended as if you were

stretching, yawning. You have no need to question

your right to exist. Whole universes turn on your axle.

8 lines on “Of Whales in Paint; in Teeth; in Wood; in Sheet-iron; in Stone; in Mountains; in Stars”

Whales in mountains, whales in stars—

beluga, humpback, killer, blue.

The mountains and the skies that hold the stars

are oceans, deeper than the pause

that’s been hanging there ever since

you went away. And if you never come back

I’ll be left with the question. What is an unfinished

pause? And the stars. What are they now?


Tyler Dunston is a poet and painter originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Growing up, he spent much of his time both in the south and the northwest, with his family Chattanooga, Tennessee and in Seattle, Washington. After graduating high school, he studied English literature and visual art at Stanford University. Currently, he is completing his MFA in poetry at Boston University.


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