from the editors

current issue

past issues



Follow UCityReview on Twitter



Anthony DiMatteo

Little Fish

Snapshot Under Water

Canyon Call

The One Truth

Little Fish

I went to buy you a goldfish
in a small glass bowl
but the man told me it would grow
to the size of the rainbow koi
swimming in a large tank.
“This is why the fish die
people take back from a fair.”

Later, in the rain, a blue
thought drifted by me.
Can a life outgrow its home?
If so, must we shrink the soul
to where we stand? Hope
pared down to a chink
coming through a door
the way a fish in a globe
has the one view on a shelf?
Should it tip, the fish’ll find
all’s not made of water
though light stays the same
on both sides of the bowl.

In the end, I didn’t buy the fish
but give you this poem instead.
It wiggles out of my hands
to seek you in your world.

Return to list of poems

Snapshot Under Water

People love the bay they don’t swim in
anymore. These two girls, though,
lay face down in the brown tide.
At the lip of the shore, they are wrapped up
in the warm water and in each other,
not noting the little boat that’s pulled up
and the two gray men stepping out.
Their anchor will not hold in the soft sand,
but the gaze of the girls that kept out the world
will summon childhood years hence
when a first friend moves away at last
and that bay beach is all boarded up.     

Return to list of poems

Canyon Call

To leave the twenty-first century,
wander off the road into the canyon.
The silence is intimate like a lover
who has travelled a long distance
and now wants you all at once.

When you pause, you hear how loud
your creaking pack has been,
a rattle of coin in a quiet church.
Where a juniper cork screws into the sky,
a white gray bird with a brown back
tilts his head sidewise and flies off.

You have never been so at home
and this alone. You ask the universe,
“why have you kept my true life a secret
from me?” but you know there is no I 
in this place where oceans have come and gone.

You envy clouds, wanting to rise and float,
to defy the fate that made you human.
Life on earth began in such rhythms, yes?   
You think of your brother, lost along the way.
The path down is much easier than up.  

Looking back, you see only your footprints
in pinkish dust that go the one way
like the river far below. Soon the sun
will kneel to darkness. Light dwindles,
and you cannot stay for long. Each step

down drops you further back in time
and cannot be retraced though sure to be
erased. You could turn into a stone,
so alone, so at home, and no one
would ever find you here, no

more than fish its fossil or shore
now cliff, each grain of sand unique
and each alike, one of many
and each one one. Is this how things stand?
An eagle’s cry warns: stay on the trail. 

At path’s end, the river reveals its craft.
Obsidian slabs rise, cathedrals
billion of years old. When night comes,
the stars sing praise. A pink scorpion
crawls in your boot and leaves at dawn.
How lucky one is to be alive.

Walking back up, you feel left behind.
You laugh and weep, and want to tell
the world what you cannot understand,
alone at home before a desert-like page.
The canyon has claimed you, one of its own.

Return to list of poems

The One Truth

I was in Nevada and the road was
moving under me, or was I on the road
in Montana as mountains fled?

The wind rose and the night stumbled
into the woods. You were on my mind
the way I had been on the road.

I was along my way trackless
before you appeared. I could not pass
beyond your trace - what use

to look to bluffs of Wyoming,
those pinnacles of sand?
Where an open field let yel-

low flowers wander for miles
I found one of your thrilling routes
under stars and no speed limit.

I watched mountains rise up
as if wearing the breath of God
and three rivers converge

in a wild concourse of silver
headstrong for a distant sea.
I beheld the moon ride above

blackened valleys, and it wore
your face, mocking my quest.
In the far sweep of your current,

I turned into a stream seeking
where I ended and you began.
The waters proved to merge.

But the dimmer the woods,
the darker the night, the more
the one truth remains clear:

I will return to you.

Return to list of poems

Anthony DiMatteo's recent poems and reviews have sprouted in the Cortland Review,  Hunger Mountain, Los Angeles Review, Smartish Pace, Verse Daily, and Waccamaw. His current book of poems, In Defense of Puppets, has been hailed as, "a rare collection, establishing a stunningly new poetic and challenging the traditions that DiMatteo (as Renaissance scholar) claims give the poet 'the last word'"(Cider Press Review).

Return to list of poems

copyright 2010-2019 ucity review