Published on Academy of American Poets (

The water draft,

lotuses on blotches of water
coins in water, water on water 
water about water, at the bottom
are coins to get to the bottom of
pastel sound, words written about water
circular words circular words

dashboard figures in lotus position
patron saints, consorts, goddesses
on the surface of pink    of green
music, reggae and gospel  hip-hop
canals of classical and Latin jazz
though in a water garden, H2O music

tuning forks of lotus roots dangle
into a pond of piano, to rooms of silt,
the rooms at bottom toss up silt
watery Times New Roman font
it starts to rain, rain drops on the surface
circular sentences circular sentences

the pink pianissimo starts up
the green largo, the pond of sound
with “brief brush strokes like commas”
notes across water    like black lily pads
dis- and un- in a water garden,
dissonances against the harmony

x x x x x x x x x x x
where the lotuses knocked out
the water lilies

words circular words circular
water about written words, sound pastel
water about water, water on water
water of blotches as sound reverses,
passing under the white footbridge
moves to the left, moves to the left,

before banks of irises, before endowed benches
for Monet’s beloved Camille, for Satie’s girlfriend Suzanne
Valadon, and the lotuses who notarize
Death Certificates, Marriage Certificates,
in mobiles of notes recognize the sound as
Gymnopédies and change color like mood rings

In reverse sound, a bright story is told
differently, the notes of happiness put in reverse
walk backwards, across the water
and a non-indigenous emotional species grows on the surface
of sluggish channels of long ā and short ŏ,
millefiori of past and present

I prefer hand-tinted poems

Would you care to have this pond
immediately silk-screened
onto your chest
replacing the Rainbow Brite
Murky Dismal T-Shirt
you’re currently wearing
above rows of friendship pins?


From The Water Draft (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019). Copyright © 2019 Alexandria Peary. Used with permission of the author.


Alexandria Peary

Alexandria Peary was born to an American father and a German mother in Dover, New Hampshire and grew up in her parents’ convenience store in central Maine. She received a BA from Colby College; MFAs from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and a PhD from the University of New Hampshire. Peary is the author of five volumes of poetry: Battle of Silicon Valley at Daybreak (Spuyten Duyvil, 2021); The Water Draft (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019); Control Bird Alt Delete (University of Iowa, 2014), winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize; and Lid to the Shadow (Slope Editions, 2011), recipient of the Slope Editions Book Prize.

Peary specializes in mindful writing to alleviate writing blocks and is the author of Prolific Moment: Theory and Practice of Mindfulness for Writing (Routledge, 2018). Her presentations on mindful writing include a web series for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), a webcast for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and her 2019 TEDx talk, “How Mindfulness Can Transform the Way You Write.” Peary is also the author of a collection of creative writing pedagogy co-edited with the poet Tom C. Hunley, Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015).

Peary teaches at Salem State University and is the poet laureate of New Hampshire.

Read about Alexandria Peary’s 2020 Poets Laureate Fellowship project.

Date Published: 2019-01-01

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