Two Poems | Andre Peltier

Clear Walloon


To sleep the sleep of days,

cleansed by the water

of clear Walloon.

To sleep the amphibian

sleep of salamanders,

sirens and mudpuppies,

eyes shut tight like

The Annex doors on Sunday morning.

In a den of simplicity,

caring not for the big city

or the shadows in the dark,

caring not for Archduke Ferdinand

or trenches on the horizon.


To sleep the sleep of Milanese warfare.

To sleep the ambulatory sleep

of shell fragments, chocolate

and cigarettes.

The great tragedy still but a mirage

in the shadows

of Appennini and Po.

Camicie Nere of Piazza San Sepolcro

only a glimmer in the eye of Il Duce.

Asleep under the stars

of Bay Township,

under the boughs of aspen,

cedar, and hemlock.


The scent of burning birch

wafts through frozen teardrops

as unstuck lovers hide

in acid rain ashcans,

asleep perchance to scream.

Sleeping the still sad sleep

of Windemere Cottage.

Sleeping in the mill mad music

of malleability.

Down the banks he ran,

paddled across the western arm,

to fly through white pine

and sugar maple.


To sleep under stars

or in warm quilts of the Red Fox.

To cast and land with Vollie Fox,

and it is cold on the water,

and dying is pretty easy,

when you think on it.

“In the old days,

Horton Bay was a lumbering town.”

To slumber in the lumber towns

of northern Michigan,

to sleep the wooden sleep

of Windemere and awaken

to the song of the nuthatch.


Sculpted Fingers


Towards Barstow,

we followed the clouds

and the roadrunners.

Joshua trees along the roadside

stood like silent sentinels

welcoming us to Mojave drought,

to the brush and gravel

of western myth.

Two hours north,

we saw the rooftop of the continent.

Mt. Whitney shined with snow melt

as the deluge bathed Inyo alfalfa

and the apiaries of central California.

After Tuolumne,

birthplace of Lord Buckley,

where Ellie Nesler drew down

and dropped Daniel Mark Driver dead,

where that fascinating contralto

sang with Willie Edouin,

we saw the UFOs of Route 59

and the old bristlecone soul of Methuselah.

In Lone Pine,

Whitney cast her shadow

over the highway leading straight

into southern the smog of tomorrow.


With sunset in the rear-view,

we turned East to Needles.

Long twilight shadows

guiding the wheel,

guiding the way.

Mother road, hushed Mojave reverence.

Mule deer on the roadside

startled by coyote’s cry.

A Gila monster hid beneath

those tumbled rocks,

toxic breath and all. T

hey say once it bites, it won’t let go.

Only George Goodfellow knew for sure.

We stopped for the night

before crossing the carving waters

as the sun rose in our eyes

and in our reflection.

We looked deep to the river bottom,

deep to the history of that American artery

carrying folks west from Chicago, St. Louis, Okemah.

The river cut deep into uplifted staircase.

The river, like Strazza, Sanmartino, Pietro Rossi,

sculpted Kaibab limestone

and sculpted our memory.


In Needles we slept soundly, dreamt of

John Wesley Powell, and ate tacos for breakfast.

When Powell floated with his nine companions,

he didn’t get gas station tacos

or think on tomorrow.

He held on with sculpted fingers.

Held his breath at every turn.

In Needles, the rush of history

weighed lightly on our cares.

In Needles, we knew we’d see tomorrow.

Sculpted fingers on sculpted steering wheel,

we knew we’d see

the smog of tomorrow.


Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash


Andre F. Peltier (he/him) is a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominated poet and a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches literature and writing. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his wife and children. His poetry has recently appeared in various publications both online and in print. His poetry collection, Poplandia, is available from Alien Buddha, and his collection Trouble on the Escarpment is available from Back Room Poetry. He has two collections forthcoming in 2023: Petoskey Stones from Finishing Line Press and Ambassador Bridge: Poems from Alien Buddha Press. In his free time, he obsesses over soccer and comic books.

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