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The Pale Man’s Eyes Never Leave the Horizon


"Bent Teeth" photo by Stephen Briseño

The Pale Man’s Eyes Never Leave the Horizon

by Jack B. Bedell

—Lake Champlain

When a wave rolls up out of nowhere,

do not look down. It is my body

shifting under the surface.

I will be there in the shallows

to hear the people of the woods

warn you not to disturb me.

My eyes, the size of white perch,

will roll back into their sockets

at the sound of your laughter.

Whenever your children come to the shore

aching to disappear into my calm lake,

I will grab them by their ankles,

draw them into the deep water

with their last breaths still captive

in their lungs. For each beating heart

I devour, each of your barges

full of tree trunks I sink, you

will cry a slow prayer toward

the dying light. There is no lesson

in this pain for you, no

road you can build long enough

to escape my reach, the teeth

I sharpen each night, waiting

for the crunch of bones you are.


Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. His latest collections are Elliptic (Yellow Flag Press, 2016), Revenant (Blue Horse Press, 2016), and Bone-Hollow, True: New & Selected Poems (Texas Review Press, 2013). He has recently been appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to serve as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.

Stephen Briseño is a poet and middle school English teacher. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Mentor Mixtapes, 8Poems, formercactus, Riddled with Arrows, and Right Hand Pointing. He lives in San Antonio, TX with his wife and daughter, where you can usually find them lounging at a coffee shop. Follow him on Twitter: @stephen_briseno.

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