Look at This Blue (excerpt)

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Lemon-wedge half-moon pops over                                                 flat Cosumnes shallowsover sweet sound, low rustle in Lodi water                                                 chortle trill night language from standingcranes, sandhills, they've been there                                                 all along, standing still knee-deep in station pools.                          Orion hovering eastward       drawn, readied.Someone slinks past doorjamb                         each choke hold felled       vaporizes      cognizance.  Here, we once knew balance, achieved it, lived it.                                                             Any one of them left to themselves if they                                                             maneuvered awayfrom agreement reached with all of the natural                  world.                                                             Where only one of the manynow overthrown and imbalanced                                                             by intrusion by who left ideology ofbalance for warscapes, resourcing, in a way                                                             tangled to harness everything met.                                                             In some discovery mode and taking, it never                                                             ended, still goes on and noweven rainwater for sale so harnessed                                                             for commodity,          for resource in a greentime now long-over, browned in drought made                                                             by sourcing rain givers, savanna grasses,forests, sea oats in a time where everything is                                                             commodified,                                               so takento other places now without, in this time                                                             of no ways to meander in acontinual manner, now, everything must                                                             shift, we will surely not endure, stones sigh.

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke was a 2021-2022 Legacy Artist Fellow (California Arts Council) and a recent George Garrett Award recipient (AWP, 2021). Other awards include a King-Chavez-Parks Awardee, Fulbright, First Jade Nurtured Sihui (China) Female International Foreign Poetry Award, U.S. Library of Congress Witter Bynner fellowship, and an American Book Award. Hedge Coke’s books include The Year of the Rat, Dog Road Woman, Off-Season City Pipe, Blood Run, Burn, Streaming, Look at This Blue: an assemblage poem (book length, 2022 National Book Award Finalist), as well as a memoir, Rock Ghost, Willow, Deer (2014, paperback), and a play Icicles. The social media hashtag #poempromptsforthepandemic hosts hundreds of original prompts she crafted as public outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hedge Coke teaches creative writing and narrative medicine at the University of California, on Cahuilla, Serrano, and Tongva lands in Riverside (UCR). Hedge Coke came of age working fields, factories, and waters, until retraining for former fieldworkers when nearing thirty years of age, after her disabilities eventually precluded continuation. For the past thirty years, she’s worked in literary activism, intervention, and bibliotherapy/narrative medicine.

Look at This Blue https://coffeehousepress.org/products/look-at-this-blue
Burn https://madhat-press.com/products/burn-by-allison-adelle-hedge-coke
Streaming https://coffeehousepress.org/products/streaming

Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Hedge Coke examines the blue of extinction, the blue of the last butterflies, the blue of arson, howls of species gone, the last note of Ishi and his people. The speaker’s blue spirals of compassion and action, flora and fauna endangered, the blue of facts, lists, documents, missionization of First Peoples propel us through the poem, commit us to zig-zagging across stanzas of lives lost. A contesting poetics of many voices, Look at This Blue is a timely and necessary book.”
—Judges’ Citation for the 2022 National Book Awards

“An impressive lyrical accounting of California’s biodiversity that also serves as a preemptive elegy for these plants, animals, and human beings, given the current climate crisis. . . . A hypnotic assembly of discordant parts. As it bears witness to the wonders of one continental coast, Look at This Blue asks us all to face our world together.”
—Diego Báez, Poetry Foundation

“Its reportage and proximity to history reminded me of Aracelis Girmay’s The Black Maria, of Collier Nogues’s The Ground I Stand on Is Not My Ground, of Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas, and of Claudia Rankine’s incomparable Citizen: An American Lyric. I wouldn’t be the first to hear the voluminous and ecstatic witness of Whitman in Hedge Coke’s work, either. . . . Music is one of Hedge Coke’s great gifts. Smart, subtle, texturous.”
—Emily Vizzo, World Literature Today

Poetry Daily Depends on You

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