ALL OF THIS WAS ONCE UNDER WATER
AVAILABLE NOW from Quarter Press.
First edition is a limited-run hard cover. Includes a blue vellum dust jacket, offset printing, full-color interior, custom end sheets, and illustrations by Maximiliane Spieß.
"All of This Was Once Under Water is entrancing, beguiling, disquieting—a collection of poetic dispatches from a terrain of lost faith and ecological decline. A genderless alien from another world, a philosophical monster residing in the Great Salt Lake, and a human “She” with a long-buried trauma: these are just some of the dramatis personae in this compendious collection that make the familiar strange again. Interspersed fragments of history about the birth of the Mormon Church comment ironically on our current state. The tone isn’t elegiac. There is hope in these searching poems, in their sensuous encounter with nature—not to mention a love affair between alien and human. The wondrous attention, the wry melancholy, and the sly humor of these poems will allow readers to glimpse their own lives with new eyes."
—Dan O’Brien, author of Our Cancers
INTERVIEWS & REVIEWS
"What Lies Submerged: Myth and Monster in All of This Was Once Under Water" by Rachel Custer
Click on an image to go to the poem.
Featured Writer at O:JA&L—five poems, a craft essay and an interview in separate links.
THE TROUBLE WITH CLOTHING
What this life wants is a straight line. Speed
of light. To see
what’s on the other side of the barrier, the best
way to figure green.
The alien bends, whispers
a curse. He’s worn clothing long enough to know
when a seam pops the sound
of a human joint
it means unraveling
a coming ugliness.
But what’s undone is done. He lights a match
a flare, a click
the sound of wind
months with no rain
burn a field
one water dropped, comes to a hiss
a toilet bowl
heavy traffic on fast forward
strand of smoke
to hose to sky
One quick stroke. Like spreading
butter or breaking a string.
Originally published in South Dakota Review
THE GREAT SALT LAKE HAS BEEN SHRINKING SINCE THE ROUNDING OF THE LAST ICE AGE.
The monster has lasted centuries
with little light, in one place.
This lake once spanned hundreds of monsters,
millions of gallons to roam.
Now he has a small city, a village
deep enough to safely travel. He doesn’t mind much,
but wonders about humans and sun.
What will be done when the many things collected
are uncovered? Bones and rings and rocks.
What was lost. Cast off.
The trash of time. He and his house release
only what breathes oxygen or is little enough
Life gets smaller. Salt gets thicker.
The monster doesn’t consider lost love or favorites,
the monster wants to know
what fresh water tastes like, how big a lung feels
when it inhales.
Originally published in Pilgrimage