Devon Wootten

Selections from Ice/Land


Whole strata of rounded stones torn asunder,

& sunk, & new hills arose.
                                                 The action
& process thereof.

                                If the aversion
of God's face is confusion, his fury’s

the utter absorption of the creature.


Reader, I sat & watched the boat approach.

Reader, solemnity, an instance of this,
for what has not drown’d remains unmixt –

                Of movement & measure,

                 Of wave, / displacement


& what steady star, resolute –


a wake descries what is unstaved.

O, vagary – O, indiscretion –
we are poor & we are mingled together.



An inauspicious beginning:


I am not ungrateful.
                                & as for Truth –

            you expect too much from poems –

beauty & presuppositionlessness,

& the infinite space between the two. (v.i.)


For an immaterial thing, memory
’s an impertinent particular,

& persistent, fashioning I’s from then’s 
as one twists yarns into twine –

straitened between the mountains and the sea,
we trod the fractured angles of upturned ice.


O stop-gap, O emulous positum, 

this will not fail to lack sincerity,
but earnestly, as if I loved you.



            there are limits to credulity

(I’d a different beginning in mind, viz.

& so I, having been so desirous,
something something nautical.


a ship in all its specificity,
the sails close aft, by three great hawsers moored,

the sea & its attendant gravitas.)

             this cannot fail to be a poem

however botched & o’erweening –

neither sextant nor its guiding star,
neither compass nor the hand that holds it–

& whence this unruly supplement.

             nothing’s insignificant

& so saved our selves and the noble shippe also
which all we marryners aborde thought
coolde not possybelly but have been broken in sunder.

Devon Wootton

Devon is an instructor at Whitman College. His poems have appeared in Fence, Aufgabe, Colorado Review, Octopus (online), the tiny, Backward City Review, and 26 – A Journal of Poetry and Poetics. He is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Montana and ABD in the Comparative Literature Program at the University of Iowa. He lives with his wife among the wheat fields of southeast Washington. He curates