The Works of Erin Renee Wahl

Erin Renee Wahl's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Dirty Chai, Blackmail Press, Indigo Rising Magazine, Spiral Orb, Cirque, Clementine Poetry Journal, and others. This year she is a regular contributor to the Michigan Quarterly Review's blog. She lives in Alaska and teaches at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. 


All Poems © Erin Renee Wahl

Forgetting Arizona Late at Night

because I never really needed all the steaming
chile peppers. Those tacos were just a dream.
No truck waiting for me in the dust, its offerings
slathered in sauces and sacrifices. I never once

stood in the monsoon to wash the sticky off me
and see the lightning burst the thick sky, or paused
on a trail to witness the matrix of cactus flesh
wrung clean by the sun. I never broke my stride

for the single crack of a rattle, or stopped silent
to let a javelina pass me by in the desert. I never
went up to the pine forests or camped on ridges
overlooking red boulders flecked with sage green.

I never sat in snow there in December or cooled
my legs in January creeks, or visited the wide
berth carved into the stone as if God dug his fingers
into the earth so tightly to avoid falling into a dream.

Scattered Spades

We are littered with odd
coincidences. Scattered
spades and crowns
of flowers, the last one

hanging just so on green
tree tips. That old yelping
god in a bowler hat causes
trouble and rain storms.

Too hard to swallow, he floats
just out of reach, swaddled
in basil. A solitary paper.
Coalesced gray pearls dot

the morning on the sly
and at the races one more
dollar flung far for the won
one, wrung from precious

mother's pocketbooks and tiny
college bank accounts. Just
so small. A game's a game.
Stakes higher than their

thread count loom, purple angels
singing stars in a bruised
skin. I people this village
with omens and yarns.

Shadows and Sand

The boat lines fan out, a question mark over
and over again, gone wild in the weird light.
Death knell in a cup, the single shivering

signal. An open-mouth Gatsby eye glitter
on the horizon. Whatever happened
to your green docks, and what did you make

from them when they crumbled? I checked
my watch three and four minutes before
the tree lights came crashing to shimmer

in the sound. A pox upon your places,
and upon your land and upon your sand.
I wipe wide whispers off in the dark,

check the trees to see if I can hide
my holes there. Fill them with shadows
and sand. The plover and the pelican.