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Anne Pierson Wiese

The Trumpets of Worms

It's not even spring, yet—only the first warm

flush in March—but last night while I sat

in my lawn chair on the lookout for bats,

I heard crackling from the perennial bed.

I'm new to gardening, and pretty old

to be starting out, but I made it through

fall pruning and planting, and soon

I'll learn what—if anything—I did right.

Imagine ivory tips of shoots cutting the dark

ground, naked as babies' teeth, and knowing

you put them there, watched the snow's surface

all winter, wondered what was happening below.

Now all the earthworms that curled in dislike

when sunlight flooded my spade's wake

last year are waking up hungry, rising 

for air, curveting against the underbellies 

of dead leaves with such tender unanimity 

that the bed's surface breathes and pops— 

so loud on this night, even a human can hear

                         the trumpets of worms.

Two Kinds of Death

I am disturbed by small noises,

as if disaster might strike one

drip of water at a time, or cheeping

for a fresh charge, or with the slight

scrape of a hard-backed bug behind

a bookcase. With every day, a little dose

of death—yet, how its sharp edge

turns blue bluer and truth truer.

Because there are two kinds of death:

the simple one that only happens

once, and the uncanny other—sifting

through us like magnetic dust, ballast

for what we might otherwise too lightly love.

What worth having does not hurt to hold?

Prairie du Sac

In a vacant lot

in the big city

after dark

the chirp

of one cricket


at my chest

like salvation.

The thirsty light

of one firefly

does not appear.

Pain can be used

as a lever.

I cannot go on


in these black

blessed weeds

like a killer.

Stars are.


in my heart's


is the pinch bar

hard enough

to lift me?

Anne Pierson Wiese’s first collection, Floating City (Louisiana State University Press) was chosen by Kay Ryan to receive the Academy of American Poets Walt Whitman Award. She was the 2019-20 recipient of the annual Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship in poetry, and have also received fellowships in poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the South Dakota Arts Council, as well as a “Discovery”/The Nation poetry prize. Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, among them The New England Review, Raritan, Ploughshares, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, The Antioch Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Southwest Review. My creative nonfiction has recently appeared in The New England Review, Raritan, and The Antioch Review.

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