Valerie Coulton



El Diablito/birthday song

I just never believed in him

my body was not the earth

spooning molasses from the jar with the yellow label

pretending a storybook winter

we too traversed the continent from east to west and back again

and now what?

at a near edge of, as you put it, an old sea

older than springtime, someone sang, younger than the hills

and if some aficionado of my mess

well, you know

little spiders, fresh syntax



inventory, August 29th


boxes & boxes of              my days                             & letters
dust                                   my hours                           a wallet
hair                                   my minutes                       & cards of membership
photographs                      the hands                          strings of numbers
ticket stubs                        which lifted                       agreements
programs                           & set down again              my signature
coins                                 wrote &                            that year
rubber bands                     withered                            that year
paper clips                         a skin is being slipped                  that summer 





you walk out along the sea at the equalizing hour

when              or none, or few
white & blue against
a list of evening pigments

at a certain    time of year
everything is water 

letters,          a ladder

if you look long enough
your feet in little waves

the lace that flashes
          for a second in the light 



inventory, June 15th


1        news of a supermarket
2        6,000 miles
3        a few hieroglyphs
4        heartthrob
5        palimpsest
6        why didn’t you tell me?
7        box of insects
8        brands of dry vermouth
9        he was a character
10       stolen details
11       all wars are boyish
12       blueberry pie
13       no one to drive
14       supreme court decisions
15       nurses
16       needles
17       old television shows
18       flavors of jello
19       I like the red ones
20       & lime of course
21       so refreshing
22       summer again
23       so green 



the subject of that chapter is memory


ice cream a dog a game a woman coming into the room hair an ice rink bees his pencil sharpener an airplane train station some flowers money an elevator the offices the pavement a suitcase cars maps the roads a streetcar the songs the perfume a dress some stockings cigarettes record player morning the coffee a Christmas a train a tree a dance fish sky tools clouds their shadows the books some stories a typewriter record player hand two hands a voice some lyrics a suitcase a woman a dress the coffee an elevator the folders the light



la escalera


cabinet of curiosities                                                        trick
printed in China
do you like poetry?                                                          palm
water falls
again today                                                                 cuff
& someone has left a red ladder
against my wall                                                                     button
eating corn from the jar
wondering about a scale of numbers                                    lifeline
as a child I believed in parrots                                              loveline
someone sang
sweet lemons                                                                        no. 21
book autumn                                                                       the right one
straw & crows
now you are the only thing                                                   the one you
I believe in                                                                 stumble over
someone sang                                                      
                                                                                  can’t forget 

                                                                                  es lo que hay


someone sang



Valerie Coulton’s books include small bed & field guide (above/ground press), open book (Apogee Press), and The Cellar Dreamer (Apogee Press). With husband Edward Smallfield, she’s the co-author of lirio and anonymous, both from Dancing Girl Press. She lives in Barcelona and co-edits parentheses, an annual journal of international writing.