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3rd Place: 2022 Poetry Contest

Before the moon, there was Neptune.
And before that, one giant sky rock took

a bite from another, spitting in anger—
a wet thud went to Earth who, spinning

too close, caught a bit of sponge in her teeth...
First it was Florida, coastal erosion, part of

nature’s normal cycle, they said. Then, a third
of California and it happened quick. Santa Barbara

went underwater in one week and from here
you can just make out the top of several Subarus

sunning their backs in the water like snapping turtles.
Some say that late at night, thousands of mermen come,

drowning the vehicles like Oreos in milk,
softening them up—which is why they’re gone

come morning. I mean, softening them up to feed her,
Mother Sponge—that’s what the locals call her—

but I think it’s just the water rising and the land
shrinking, crowding people out, that’s got them

spinning stories…. It’s not like the movies.
No screaming ladies clutch one hand

to the last slice of land, legs dangling.
Actually, they are in their beds

when the water whelms like a wet blanket,
rolls over. It is not dark—her bright is blinding—

at the bottom she opens her mouth,
immense eraser, and starts over.


Jess L Parker is a poet and strategist from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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