Cole HeadshotDouglas Cole has published Four collections of poetry: Interstate (Night Ballet Press); Western Dream, (Finishing Line Press), The Dice Throwers, (Liquid Light Press), Bali Poems (Wordtech Press), as well as a novella, Ghost (Blue Cubicle Press). His work is in anthologies such as Best New Writing (Hopewell Publications), Bully Anthology (Kentucky Stories Press) and Coming Off The Line (Mainstreet Rag Publishing). His work also appears or is forthcoming in journals such as The Chicago Quarterly Review, Owen Wister Review, Iconoclast, Slipstream, Red Rock Review, Wisconsin Review, Two Thirds North, San Pedro River Review, Badlands, Common Ground Review, The Ocean State Review, and Midwest Quarterly. He received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry; the Best of Poetry Award from Clapboard House; and First Prize in the “Picture Worth 500 Words” from Tattoo Highway. His website is

The Bog

You’ve got to watch out
when you cross that bog
if you stop you’re gonna sink
lose a boot or worse
and men coming down
from the bar to smoke
have gone missing
only to turn up later
with a hand sticking up
out of the sand
or a foot poking out
of a cliff wall
bog men bobbing around
in the liquid underground
eyes staring into spark
of stone against stone
as gel flesh rolls fluid slow
through collisions and explosions
in the black strips of sediment
so keep moving and step light
and fill your lungs with air

On Entering

The question is,
what is that woman
looking at
as she stands there
next to the town sign,
umbrella in her hand,

The men are out there
working on the power line.
The white church hovers
in the green field.

The old house is
a burned husk
with a shadow in the attic,
overlooking the water
and the clouds traveling
endless white and gray.

Double Bluff

White driftwood is a sand-blasted Egypt
and the tides are ideas for a new city
based on pyramids music and anxiety
coming in the first cold knife-blade breeze
that arrives at the leading edge of a black storm
with frothing clouds and lightning flare
with thunder and cabin smoke
fires burning in the dark forest

yet the hawk above knows farther
and step from the brow see from higher
men pulling crab pots out of the water
at dusk and their voices riding the air
as they drink to another day of good luck
saying why would you ever leave?

Western Dream

Crud keeps pouring in as workers off third shift
push back from the bar and head to the street
under dawn’s harsh light through thin sick clouds
dust still settling from cars passing through town
and across the river in another state those who left
celebrate in green parks under cook-fire smoke
on their blankets shimmering with summer magic
because the lightning express is always on time
crossing the starlit plains like a needle of light
to destinations you imagine and more every day
and that’s how we go from infinity and back
with no delays and no sidetracks
the station master waving at every stop
as we climb aboard and he tips his hat

The Consolation of Philosophy

Not much time left or space,
these are the titanic pages.
You dodged the disaster, didn’t you?
It always catches up, meaning,
there is a great ledger book behind things
in which is recorded all your joys and successes,
your sicknesses and failures, pleasures and sufferings
over the arc of several life-times
(because one is never enough),
and every soul is delivered in exact proportion
the same amount of comedy and tragedy,
so, know it, today, my friend,
and even in a single lifetime maybe see
for some the balance in the heart of it,
the crux of the great wheel of Fortuna!
…as you slide out spinning faster and faster,
heading towards the outer edge of the fling-off—
also note those sad, ugly, wretched, addicted
poisonous and scabrous souls
crawling through their days
or sitting on a city bus beside that clean,
grinning, happy-dull, complacent
everything-goes-right for me
citizen of the universe,
and know they’re exploring the same themes
but in different chapters
and will swap roles in the next production
and on an on…
until enough, you say, enough!
I got it! And you will,
and rather than plunge back through the blue door
into the grunt and moan and dim wet birth room,
you’ll back-flip like a deep-sea diver
into your own little convalescent dream,
eternal on a white sand beach
with a thatch hut and occasional friends
and an ever-stocked mini-bar—right?
Or some other urge will grip you,
and you’ll scan those blinking passing possibilities
like static stations fast flipping by
until you say—that one
and slip into another lifetime just for the hell of it,
just because you heard and believed
given a choice between nothing and grief
grief is better to choose,
or you actually, god help you, think you,
in your infinitesimal spark might do some good
to nudge the whole works towards some finer arrangement,
or at least help in however small measure
by doing nothing more than hold someone’s hand—
the possibilities, you see, are endless.
We are watching from the hub,
and know from past and future experience
the frustrating and beautiful realities,
and we move among you from time to time
with disengaged amusement, unattached, curious,
close but wise and wary of the pitfalls
involved in your particular schemes.
The song, the particle, the wave,
the eye, the mind, the raving lunatics,
fast and furious buildings, the moments have
a busy and absurd agenda, and you,
you’re holding a ticket, walking up the gangplank,
thrilled and aware of every smell, every nuance of light,
every face and texture and movement of cloud,
ready for the adventure, beautiful, strange, innocent child,
bless you on your journey,
bless you in your optimism,
bless you, and god’s speed—