We Were in a World

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

We were in a world, in a world, in a world. Sure, we had our glyphs, but we were providential. Once, some alphabet believers, glass purveyors, Ursus Arctos killers, sent all bailiwick on cursed course far faster gyration backspin, birling intrinsic angular momentum—boson melts. Spinning, it careened away iceberg, iceberg, iceberg; glacier braced time traced yesterday unshakable base—all below flushed alluvion torrent, Niagara pour, special spate, flux, flow, until their coastal citadels moldered from cyclone, tsunami, hurricane gale. Tornadoes tossed turf wherever they pleased. Eruptions molded Her back into something She deemed worthy. Not to mention quakes. And the people, the people, the People, pushed into cataclysm, a few generations from alphabet book imposed catechism, soon were calamity tragedy storm splinters, fragmented particles of real past, in a world gone away from oratory, song, oraliteratures, orations into gyrations reeling. Soon hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot. Hot, dying mangroves, disappearing Waimea Bay, dengue fever, butterfly range shift, meadow gone forest, desert sprung savannah, caribou, black guillemots, bats, frogs, snails—gone. What will sandhill cranes crave? Winged lay early. Reefs bleach. Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, snow, snow, snow, fires flaming fiercely, fascinated in their own reflecting glare. Marmots rise early. Mosquitoes endure longer, lasting biting spreading West Nile. Polar bears quit bearing. Robins, swallows, enter Inuit life. Thunder finds Iñupiat. Here, it is said, glyphs left rock wall, stone plates, bark, branch, leapt animated into being, shook shoulders, straightened story, lifted world upon their wing bone, soared into Night, to place World back into socket eased sky—stilled us. Some say the soup leftover was worded with decolonized language. Some say the taste lingers even now.

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Allison Hedge Coke

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke’s recent honors include a 2022-2023 UC Mellon Dean’s Professorship, the 2021-2022 California Arts Council Legacy Artist Fellowship, 2021 AWP George Garrett Award, 2021 induction into the Texas Institute of Letters, 2020 Daniel & Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals at the University of Hawai‘i, 2019 Fulbright in Montenegro, 2018 First Jade Female Poetry Festival Sihui China Excellent Foreign Poet, 2016 US Library of Congress Witter Bynner Fellow. Allison comes from working fields and waters, teaches for UC Riverside and has edited 10 anthologies, written a play and memoir, and written/directed 25 short films and the latest release is Look at This Blue, from Coffee House Press, 2022. Look at This Blue is Allison’s seventh book of poetry and is her love letter and call to accountability to California.

Streaming takes her always brave and startling sonics into new narrative spaces. These poems are full of needful improvisation and piano runs. Hedge Coke makes music from tornados and glyphs, from cranes spiraling overhead, and from the grumbling stomachs of hungry children. She sings these stories because she has to and because we need her to. And when the speaker in ‘Sudden Where’ says ‘maybe we’d find something magnificent, give it up to make somebody happy,’ it is clear that in these urgent poems, and in this necessary book, we’ve found both the magnificent and the unforgettable.”
—Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke

“By uniting the poems through imagery, language, and movement, Allison Adele Hedge Coke creates more than a collection of poems. Streaming is a continuous trail of light, a steady flow music from the heart of the motherland.”
Green Mountains Review

“The poems come toward us from a museum of abundance; but museums are filled with relics and this poetry is purely fluid. Everything is moving, changing, and growing, disintegrating and rejuvenating for its own purposes.”
Washington Independent Review of Books

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