This week in the PEN Poetry Series, guest editor Robert Fernandez features seven poems by Peter Richards. About Richards’s work, Fernandez writes: “These seven poems of Peter Richards’s show the poetic function at a revelatory pitch, sound spilling over into sense and seeing and recursively drawn back again into earthy flintiness and drive. There is a hell and a heaven in these poems, an origin the speaker has forgotten but is drawn back to, seeking to articulate both spoken and speaker at once: ‘I would not be here / if not for your unbiddable / headdress / sliding fork candle.’ We sense that we are aligned with tenderness not violence, health not devastation. And yet celebration and tragedy feel linked: ‘this is how they are maneuvering alone vague…trapped inside a dome of great matter and blessing.’ What strange, vibrant sojourning to wander in such a place, to be taken up by music and set down in seeing, and what deft and searching hands have carried us here.”



Delphinium you
can now start your island winter
gibbet evening
course and you can now
darn your coffin egg beetles
stir without habit
full underground nods
full loping minaret star
nurseries and hoop
burbled stockades of
found eyeteeth and previous
dialed testicled
kerchiefs of buried
ocean liner plume ram tight
guitar sheeted nubs



Lord I would not be here
if not for your unbiddable
headdress sliding fork candle
you know that Lord so hear

me out at your feeding some
of the blood straw kept falling
out a bit and if we ate some
so what if we did whenever

you feed there you see a little
always falls out a bit simple
as that for you it’s just everyday
normal blood straw grooming

part of life stuff no Lord I go
lie down now and see if I can’t
find this new Mary a more tusk
like place in time for your cycle


Blood Moon

Blood moon whoever
calls you this lived stupidly
forgets god yearning



For this bell on the outside we like to keep it blanketed in an orange trumpet cape it helps some of the sad maneuvers who frequent it bent as they are on molesting residues they ask to appear legion and often they will appear legion but we think now they are each one aggregates of the same hungry spirit but with the suffering paste blurry vast and diffuse and so we conjugate knowing we may never know and if this saddens us we say let it sadden us we enjoy the fern motion of our universe this by itself tells us it’s alive love some spirits will try and frighten you and even hurt you but they lack fortitude by themselves which like I say we think this is how they are now maneuvering alone vague and sublunary to themselves they are the ones trapped inside a dome of great matter and blessing



The marsh had gone down
and the sun was setting but still
it kept the snails quiet
and a drape over
everything went vigilant
invisible me
was the attitude
it makes the tide seem far off
yet more impending
bright runnels in the mud
look like the breathing
canyons one could say
vouchsafe to with little consequence
but the appearance



Christ leathers inside a pearl
a lamp heavy sea Christ pearl
last simple room last dangers
old a pearled hand out of two
burnt cites Christ take away
less be omitted



Lord would you abscond
with me in the same twin
darnel plates year after year
same fused plate envelope
I notice the second time you
opened it sounded more like
two plates being shucked
than like two plates growing
more and more banded Lord
let the scoundrel space aging
craft remember me to air


Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).