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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Grant Clauser

What If We Could

choose one thing in the world
to fix, to right one wrong.
I’d save the whales, the ones
so done with their wandering
that they use the tide’s muscle
to ram themselves onto sand.
I’d tell them to look past
the bottomless dark
they spend their lives
rising and falling through,
staring into caverns so deep
even their brains, the largest
in the world, can’t fathom
why sunlight surrenders
to the pressure of cold, yet
some life still thrives there,
and I’d tell them not to give up
on us either, swaddled in oxygen,
though we fill the seas
with microplastics, troll
the channels of every last
plankton until salt
is the only thing whales taste,
but even at their end,
laid out on a sandbar
with gravity’s full weight
collapsing their lungs,
there will almost always
be someone dousing them
with a bucket, roping
them to a tug boat
or waiting silently
with a chainsaw, weeping
what mercy demands.

God Particle

Sitting by the pond
watching how perfectly made
the frog is for moving
between land and water,
even air, as it leaps
to escape my daughter,
I understand we are ill built
for living, our bodies
made for nothing
without destroying
what we touch.
Hands like mine
turned valleys
into lakes
mountains into rubble
and prairies
into dust bowls,
yet we smash atoms
into each other
trying to find god.
In Taiji they harvest
two thousand dolphins
for the annual festival.
It’s no wonder
we invent language
like domestic violence
or hate speech
when even something
as lovely as a feast
has to begin
with a slaughter.


Grant Clauser lives in Pennsylvania and works as an editor, writer and teacher. He is the author of four poetry books including  Reckless Constellations (winner of the Cider Press Review Book Award) and The Magician’s Handbook. Poems have appeared in the anthology Ghost Fishing and in journals including The American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Tar River Poetry and others.

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