this whale is no
not, is no physical record

this whale is
down the quarterdeck

this whale is
train cars and cataracts

this whale is
tunnel vision

this whale is
the generation of sound

this whale is knot
chapter is caput is ears

this whale is in the event
of an accident

this whale is wheel-axle-
frame assembly

this whale is
waxing spermaceti

this whale is a toothed
rack of couplets

this whale is a real

this whale is a hell
of a central scaffold

this whale is
locked cars and blue flags

this whale is
for crossbuck fags

this whale is for
new mouths

this whale is
in the hole

this whale is the rolling
stack, the battleship

this whale is my
clown wagon

this whale is every-
thing that ebbs

one cargo container
on top of another

this whale
is the term

for the only kind
of engine


knobbed spire
my long-sleeve mind

layers of Gothic cream
slimed this body anew

whiskey and
the loss of whiskey

the loss of my
whale’s poem

and a soft corresponding
rib, blood-bubbling

I dance on the shore

in rough weather
with my storm-gaze

my gyroscope
expresses circularity

my iris, my white
arc pearl like snow


erasure, a pair
of dice


with new poets come new poetry
this heave and toss business

but I feel as though
I’m sinking

all zig

in a cistern
of toxic honey

ocean of occasion
of great, great trouble

against the

I seem to be

ancient tree hollowed
of substance

knotted to a future
I am untattooed, no map

no jolly boat
to carry me

out to


Paul Cunningham co-manages Action Books, an international press for poetry and translation. He is the author of Fall Garment (Schism Press, 2022) and The House of the Tree of Sores (Schism Press, 2020). From the Swedish, he is the translator of Helena Österlund’s Words (OOMPH! Press, 2019). He has also translated two chapbooks by Sara Tuss Efrik: Automanias: Selected Poems (Goodmorning Menagerie, 2016) and The Night’s Belly (Toad Press, 2016). His most recent poetry chapbook is The Inmost (Carrion Bloom Books, 2020). His interests include literary translation in theory and practice, decadent poetics, and ecocritical studies.