Two Poems by Ted Mathys

From Gold Cure

September 17, 2020  By Ted Mathys


Acid scours the wellbore. Water-soluble guar
to regulate viscosity. South to north on us 65,
a fleet of 300 carbon steel tankers is alive
with 400 million gallons of alluvial aquifer.

Poseidon’s dominion is both ocean and earthquake
but the Ozarks aren’t Greek. During inspection
the farmer’s trident pitchfork leans in his barn
while he swallows the lease. The play goes bulimic.

Radioactive flowback is pooled in ponds—
benzene, xylene, naphthalene—spread on fields,
re-injected beneath his rooster’s bloodline song.

Three counties away, an Iraq vet with PTSD
braces for the next tremor in a beige La-Z-Boy.
He watches a documentary about the tides and sea.



Let plankton, symmetrical as filigree metalwork,
die. Before the dinosaurs, beneath the inland sea
between Appalachia and Laramidia, let its silica
cell walls inter the afterlife of sunlight, work down

the water column, phosphorescent in thought,
black in the actual. Under pressure, let desire
descend, sift with deep marine snow, and reside
on seafloor mud 300 million years before

Comanche County, Oklahoma. Repression,
the analyst writes, shelters that which is intolerable
to the conscious mind, and would, if released, create

tremendous anxiety. Good anthropomorphist I am,
plankton’s lonely down in the play. Bad apologist I am,
a pocket of sunlight sings from the black hurray.


gold cure, ted mathys

Excerpted from Gold Cure by Ted Mathys. Copyright © 2020. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Coffee House Press.

Ted Mathys
Ted Mathys is the author of three previous books of poetry, Null Set, The Spoils, and Forge, all from Coffee House Press. The recipient of fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Poetry Society of America, his work has appeared in the American Poetry Review, BOMB, Boston Review, Conjunctions, PBS NewsHour and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and lives in Saint Louis, where he teaches at Saint Louis University and curates the 100 Boots Poetry Series at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.

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