Published on Academy of American Poets (

Assault to Abjury

Rain commenced, and wind did.

A crippled ship slid ashore.

Our swimmer's limbs went heavy.

The sand had been flattened.

The primary dune, the secondary dune, both leveled.

The maritime forest, extracted.

Every yard of the shore was shocked with jellyfish. 

The blue pillow of the man o' war empty in the afterlight.

The threads of the jellyfish, spent.

Disaster weirdly neatened the beach. 

We cultivated the debris field.

Castaway trash, our treasure.

Jewel box, spoon ring, sack of rock candy. 

A bicycle exoskeleton without wheels, grasshopper green.

Our dead ten speed.

We rested in red mangrove and sheltered in sheets. 

Our bruises blushed backwards, our blisters did.

is it true is it true

God help us we tried to stay shattered but we just got better.

We grew adept, we caught the fish as they fled.

We skinned the fish, our knife clicked like an edict.

We were harmed, and then we healed.


From Saltwater Empire by Raymond McDaniel. Copyright © 2008 by Raymond McDaniel. Published by Coffee House Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.


Raymond McDaniel

Raymond McDaniel is most recently the author of The Cataracts (Coffee House Press, 2018). He works for the Sweetland Center for Writing in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Date Published: 2008-01-01

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