V. Penelope Pelizzon

Its back and forth, ad nauseum,ought to make the sea a bore. But walks along the shorecure me. Salt wind's the best solution fordissolving my ennui in,along with these proteansadnesses that sometimes swiminvisiblyas comb-jellya glass or two of wine below my surface.Some regretswon't untangle. Others loosen as I watch the wavesspreading their torn netsof foam along the sandto dry. I walk and walk and walk and walk, letting their haulabsorb me. One seal's hullscuttled to bone stavesgulls screamwheeling above. And here... small, diabolical,a skate's egg case,its horned purse nested on pods of bladderwortthat still squirtbrine by the eyeful. Some oily slabs of whale skin, or—no, just anedge of tireflensed from a commoner leviathan.Everywhere, plastic nurdles gleamlike pearls or caviarfor the avian gourmandand bits of sponge dab the wounded wrack-line,dried to froths of airsmelling of iodine.Hours blow off down the beach like spindrift,leaving me with an immenseless-solipsistic senseof ruin, and, as ifit's a gift, assuranceof ruin's recurrence.

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

V. Penelope Pelizzon’s first book, Nostos, won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and her second, published in both the US and UK, was a finalist for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. Her third book, A Gaze Hound That Hunteth by the Eye, will be published in 2024 in the Pitt Poetry Series.


Washington, Pennsylvania

Washington & Jefferson College

Editor-in-Chief / Executive Director
George David Clark

Managing Editor
Elisabeth Clark

Printed twice a year (in July and December) and distributed internationally with subscribers in over twenty countries, each issue includes 32 shorter poems. This minimalist focus has fostered an intimate and intensive reading experience since 2002, when Deborah Ager and John Poch founded the journal as an alternative to larger and less-selective literary magazines.

In its fifteen years, 32 Poems has showcased many of the most-recognized poets writing in English, including Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and MacArthur Genius Grant winners, Poets Laureate, and recipients of the other major honors in American letters.

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.