Three Poems by Matthew Beach

When Things Falls Apart

We tell everyone that  we’re okay, you and me.      Then we 
look out over the harbor  and  watch  evening boats turn to 
flowers on the lake.    Their smokestacks become stamens.  
Their  sails  unfurl  like  petals.     How lovely,  you say,  and 
climb a sugar maple to get a better view.  How unnerving, I 
reply,  and dig my fingers into the dirt.    A seagull pecks at 
your  purse.    Hey!  it cries.     Hey!  you cry back.       I say 
nothing—a  sitting duck—so  you  drum  your  nose  like  a 
woodpecker against the trunk.   Hey!   Blood trickles along 
the contour of your lip.   Hey!   I dig my fingers deeper into 
the soil.  Hey!  Your shoelace snags on a limb.  Hey!  I grab 
a  hibiscus  by the roots  and  pull  like  an  anchor  already 
weighed, a ship already sailed, a gull miles from any sea.





Ruffled Feathers

I  saw  two  birds  on  a  wire.       Two muscular crows,   all 
shoulders, bulbous and purple beneath the moon.  Skittish, 
of course, the way birds are—anxiously   perched there on 
the wire, brooding over the uneasy   possibility of brushing 
tail feathers.  Not accidentally, perhaps, yet still unsure how 
the other would take it.  They shift their talons, reassessing 
the space between  their  bodies,  riding  that  line between 
socially appropriate and brazenly presumptive.       Should I 
test the waters? one thinks.  Offer a wing tip?        Pretend I 
stumble haphazardly  like a damsel—Oh, my!   Silly me!—so 
that  my  breast  falls tactically  to  his beak.    His move. Or 
just go for it:  my  primaries  to  his  flank.             Dare I my 
secondaries?       Take him  back to  my  nest  and  let  him 
uncover my  coverts,  explore my undertail,  show  him how 
shrill I can caw.





On a Beach, Thinking of Ohio

Sea     snails    dot     the     shore     like       half-buried 
treasure—interesting enough,  sure,   yet   lacking   the 
mystery of it all.  I dig one out with my fingers and hold 
the conch shell at arm’s length.  How different it is from 
its relatives back in the Midwest—the sheer girth of the 
thing, the ornate spirals and rococo trimming, its fleshy 
body plunging wildly outward toward the sand, toward 
the sea,  toward  any  heaving  thing  that  reminds it of 





Matthew Beach lives, teaches, writes, and paints in Canton, Ohio.  His poems and stories appear in The Prose-Poem Project, Metazen, Weave, Heavy Feather Review, and elsewhere.