Three Poems by Carson Pytell

These three poems by Carson Pytell explore intricacies of love in the myriad forms in which it comes, touching specifically on the unrequited, the turbulent and the saccharine…

by: Carson Pytell

With Most It’d be the Worms

Again I fought the whale, fist to fin,
and was slapped stupid. But, to begin,
by birth I claim predilections, imbalance;
a sick sense of comfort on floors of the sea.

Bluntly, volcanic vents smitten me, and
(Oh!) how I hold the tube worms brothers.
I linger in liminal sands, lie and make
angels impermanent as they ever are.

But when the tube worm wraps my neck,
reminds me of their welcome and my own,
the ascent to that glassy ceiling looks long
yet worthy as all deep swimming is.

Then the whale, that whale that comes,
stands from its stool, breaches for breath,
dives and positions above me as always.
The bell didn’t ring, there is never a crowd.

It is easy to hate the whale, far too easy.
Whales impose, it’s hard not to be scared.
But whales, like boxers and just like sea tops,
do not hate you – only know, like you, to be there.


The Worm in my Manuscript

Some days, most I cannot tell
why I love or hate you or even
know certainly you are there.

Suppose that’s what true love is,
deep recognition then equal ignorance.
Suppose you only recognized ignorance.

Suppose you, seeing the tree grown tall,
thought to yourself that’s not what you wanted
at all for its boughs have bent peculiar directions.

I’m no tree now; defeated, but with speed
bound somewhere near beyond himself,
inexpressibly joyed, satisfied, busied.

And if I stay, perhaps am already there,
I’d stroke still the long ombre locks of your hair.
I feel and cannot feel your hair now, and always.

And I cannot quite hear you, cannot see,
but I love you still and, knowing this
all, know why you cannot love me.


Sick Dogs and Modest Maidens

In intimating riddles of unilateral love,
Nausicaa’s graces bounce the brows,
but it’s the humble heart the prize
for which to be fought, held, hoisted high
upon that reclaimed mantelpiece;
hand carved and stained again and again.

The maiden’s wine and wears and wish
fall flat against the plain picture
of an emaciated dog nuzzling
at the foot of a fat drunkard’s bed.
Cardiologists know just how the heart works,
yet haughty hands don’t deign to work a heart.


Carson Pytell is a Pushcart nominated writer living outside Albany, NY whose work has appeared widely online and in print, including in Ethel Zine, Perceptions Magazine, Rabid Oak, Backchannels and White Wall Review, among others. He is Assistant Editor of the journal Coastal Shelf and participated in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project in December 2020. His first two chapbooks, First-Year (Alien Buddha Press, 2020) and Trail (Guerrilla Genesis Press, 2020), are now available and his third, The Gold That Stays (Cyberwit Publishing, 2021), is forthcoming.

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