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Verso Recto # 3

By Evelynn Black

Editor's Note: Due to the formatting of this poem, it is best enjoyed on desktop view.

Hrothgar’s consciousness hovers above the battered

corner of a star, crusts over with salt, so much

salt. I’m looking through synaptic history for his enemy

when the seabeast rises from its covering, remembers

how the light-bound current washes it back upward,

the long-fingered dawdler, dreary crusher,

moves away from its home, looking askance, back

to that deep squalor, that inaccessible memory

and begins to sing its wave song,

its history collapsed into a point—

coming low, long and lyric, older,

as a lingering wave perpetuates

across the worldline starcage, older

O than you and your plastic lyric

or this electric time incapable

of mimicry, and memory

becomes heraldic, minuscule set along

the seacove freezing and the sails cracked with rime.

the seabeast nears the surface,

where its outline and its shape

shifts in the waves, pinned in so many pixels

clotting the network of barren beach heads.

The kraken kindles fear among Hrothgar’s

most ferocious. Eater of ships. Eater of soldiers.

Something for the mouth. Something

for the sea. A longer wait is coming

than the wait for death.

Hrothgar hunts this thing relentlessly.

Scour me he says, that I might be clean

of all this salt & vinegar.

Caught in all this seasnow,

his stable mind explodes

shatters, scatters, leaving ink

& pages everywhere. Hrothgar only sees

so much, but everything’s connected:

orchid stems & crabgrass, regular

expressions, those gorgeous stark white shells

he sees upon the beach, he collects them

for himself to think on in the evening

sea shells are better than the aging stack

of books his scribe keeps close, passed

down through the brittle years

for those who read

& those who don’t. He’s hunched

over, freezing in firelight, looking

for legends, leaves, some scrap to say

how high the seaswells get, how many

legs it takes to crack his ship

along the stern. It’s eaten his men before.

Is there a way to kill it, close it off

from the heat of the variable world.

I need the ending rules of myth, or fissure.

Scribe says: though the kracken’s large,

& its red tentacles slink through

seacaves, caverns, cracks

in the deep cosmology of the unjust oceansky

in truth kracken’s junk, it’s detritus,

just tinder for temporality’s irredeemable pressure

each limb a twig yet unignited:

Hrothgar too, creaks trepidation,

temptation, cataclysm: I have been without

scriptorial answers. Nothing saves us. Our philosophy’s

nomadic at its best. & even in our sleep

no god is inexhaustible.

I love you. Fuck you. Amen.

Each utterance entropic.

The old god said each kracken

is the end condition for all

endurant spatial life

but it too falls incessant victim

to the crystalline waves of time.


Evelynn Black is a trans writer from Seattle. She received her MFA from Cornell University. Her writing has appeared in The Seattle Review, Requited, Peculiars Magazine, and other publications.

She can be found on Twitter.


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