Poetry by E.G. Cunningham

“solarization” by Elijah Guerra / @deercrossingthesea

Coda Logic

Plus this—plus this: / that forever the geography / which leans in
—Charles Olson


No meadow is infinite.
The declination of insect biomass
The disappearance of the forest
The sewer pipes that used to be freshwater rivers
The ammonia dirt that used to live like soil
The 25,000-year-old water pumped to the surface

The minute adaptive variations, wiped out
The invisible oil of the cupboard staples
The blind-eye annihilations
The local varietals less plentiful but more robust
Food or trucks, pick one.

The raw materials of resin and cellulose
The carbon explosions from permafrost and fire
Those expensive tombs the filthy rich call bunkers
She unscattered the dandelion seeds on film
She had nothing to say, not clearly.
She understood this to be a symptom of sanity.
The chase after the fading light.
All those who cried the end is coming
So many came to believe no warning could ever be right
The world on its knees, its duck-taped mouth
Tens of millions of years before biodiversity flourished again.
The result of social and political choices,
Do not say that it had to happen.


You look around you do the math
The exploited deposits the energy cliffs
Clothed, fed, housed, transported
Profitable to extract.
Bernays the preamble to the end of days

History’s tributaries
Tens of millions of bison in the plains
See the black-and-white image of that skull mountain

Remove the food source to monetize the new land
Infinite growth inject it into the vein
No valuation no survival of the host
In the comatose dream we swam in endless green we could touch
She said, “too anxious for rivers”
He said, “endlessly monotonous”
When subject to stress, rocks break
The vines especially trellised to accommodate machines
We liked to drive out to the coast, sit for hours
Listen to the amniotic song
Thermal increase makes expenditure riskier

Deep down we know those vestiges belong
To the Before Repository
Cry over all of it it shall be red no sky no rain
Nuestra Señora de la Merced
The original plat distinguishable
The open raw land
The importation of water
The field is parched, the grass-blades thirst to death
Panspermia pan evaporation
Mercia was a kingdom in the Heptarchy
The etymology translating to “border people”
Consider that state against what we call mercy
The development of varietals their metabolic resources
Whatsoever served our needs and for how long
We’re just now beginning to see
All meadows have limits


We have said that if we wish to define a system of rectangular coordinates to which we refer a small terrestrial space, it is sufficient to have a given fixed point, say the top of a steeple, and a fixed horizontal place, which will be the mean plane of the sea-level if we are in the neighborhood of the sea. But what will happen should the steeple be destroyed? Will it be possible to discover the position it occupied? Here we have a difficulty which sometimes presents itself when interpreting information left by the ancients. If a town has disappeared without leaving any trace, how can we discover the position it once occupied?


Argue from grammar argue from conception
Someone says I can’t wait for seasons to be seasons again
Earth star fungi split apart to reveal an inner
Puffball, the staining agaric bruises bright yellow
And the Lentinus can eat through railway ties
Food or trucks, pick one.
This dark, compressed xylem made in summer
Tells a tale of drought and harsh conditions
Pyrophilic: having adapted to the “natural” rhythm of fire
No meadow is infinite

The dead venerable tree still offers some habitat
He said, “I have heard the summer dust” he said “crying to be born”
In the Castle Air museum exergy haunts the heavy bomber
He said the sky is the opposite of a vortex
Rains detail summaries of our impact

Clothed, fed, housed, transported
She held still the fading light
She knew this to be a symptom of humanity
the more the basin sunk
the more the basin sunk
transmogrification of selenium and silicon
all day long all that moves is the sun
goodbye growth rate goodbye vertebrates
have I enjoyed the opportunity
to lease this life.


E.G. Cunningham is the author of Ex Domestica (2017) and Apologetics (2016). Her poetry has appeared in The Abandoned Playground, Barrow Street, Colorado Review, The Nation, Poetry London, The Poetry Review, Southern Humanities Review, and other publications. She teaches at the University of California, Merced.