Allan Peterson

End in Itself
July 9, 2014 Peterson Allan

End in Itself


All veins point to a heart in depleted rivers, in branches,

the way I was shown at seven by Ruby’s sister to draw a tree

by running many lines back to an axis. Where they overlapped

a trunk grew from the annular darkness. A single trick usable

nowhere till now, an end in itself as the phrase grave disease

carries a prophecy and works as well with a pencil as a bird feather.

Sometimes I see the models to which that idea grew, or the trees

that grew to be like the idea in the freeze-dead orchards near Orlando.

Muscadine flocking back to an arm of barbed wire. Raw wool

combining into yarn on a spindle. In feeling, a coalescent neuralgia.

Self-referential needle users know to point inward with their poisons

whether or not they can name cephalic or saphenous any compass

to the shrub-sized heart, the home it goes back to ruffled with cocaine.

A hundred dollars hits the brain like sun after a cloud passes. The tree,

sun-filled, fills the whole orchard of the body, the single and the many

trees at once for maybe an hour afterwards when a moon takes its place,

then diminishes in flashlights, candles, clock dials, down every path

at once to the root of the pathologic-pathetic-scared-metabolic-rhyming

of the literal cripple so to speak.


Allan Peterson‘s most recent book is Fragile Acts (McSweeney’s Poetry Series), a finalist for both the 2013 National Book Critics Circle and Oregon Book Awards. Other books include: As Much As (Salmon Press); All the Lavish in Common (2005 Juniper Prize, University of Massachusetts) Anonymous Or (Defined Providence Prize 2001) and six chapbooks. His next book, Precarious, is forthcoming from 42 Miles Press in 2014.