Four Poems by Nathan Wade Carter


I speak thread
I speak lice and lichen—I speak is and was and wish and wisp
I speak matchstick
I speak spine—I speak clear and phosphorescent
because of all this dark
I speak abyssal animals
I speak friend and enter
I speak long time no see—I speak campfire song
I speak of listener, empath, in kind
I speak cornea and black retina
I speak color unseen
I speak leaves, a plate stacked high with leaves
I speak melting
I speak pile of mail—I speak people who used to live here
I speak lounging lemonade sun
kissing through light hair
I speak seaweed forest
I speak where the fish are the birds of their world
I speak hard and pressed against you
I speak covered in sand—barely buried
I speak unready
I speak almost
I speak altered statement—all redwoods aging





I had dreams about a giant kelp ball. No one knew what it was. It might have been seaweed or an amalgam of algae. Potentially sentient. Cuttlefish, sheepheads, anemones, urchins, and sea fans. Many-pronged stars. Eels and surf grass. Schools of fish, each a mirror. Each flicking against skin. The kelp ball was comforting in the black salt water. It was a harbinger of light and levity, an ambassador saying, “It’s not all sharks in here.” The kelp ball was a soft god to be consumed, to float around the world with no means to propel itself.





The sum of all summers a white hot ball of light.

The sometimes summer storms a fast hard stop,
a pan flash,
flooding too much for drains to handle.
A sign of the times.
A substance to keep one working.
Stay genius stay sharp.

Some storms summer in the stomach.
Some storms sun themselves,
shun the shade, sun-shaped.
Another stuns the salmon.
Storm’s gotta eat.

Some storm even when you are kind.
Some storm because that’s all they’ve known,
because their fathers stormed.





A black rat eats at my grey matter, it always has,
black rat doubt, black rat lack,
that cheesy lack of self petting. What black rat does is hollow
me out, make bed of hair and bits of thread.

A black rat is resting warm in the recess,
no hunger, no boredom, no door in,
no door out, just two windows,
just right and plenty of stew.

A black rat does what a black rat knows,
its beetle sheen a deep dark thing,
curious and furled.
A black rat is peacock plume-less.

A black rat is a clever feather, to be and not to be
what cannot be seen or see, only black
because there is no light. Likely blind,
likely I could not find it if I tried.

A black rat is a played game, worn
board, incomplete, unplayable but impossible to toss.
We are woven into the nest
and it would tear if we test how deep it’s set.




Nathan Wade Carter is a poet, musician and artist living in Portland, Oregon. He writes and performs music under the name Purrbot, and has performed with bands from all over the globe. He can be found on Bandcamp and on tumblr