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Ocean Gospel

Kirsten Baltz


I will never remember

the first time 

I smelled the ocean.

My first breath was so full of brine,

pulled down deep

into screaming lungs

that wrote their own

gospel in the salt

of mother’s blood

that I have forgotten;

everything is not

a warm sea breeze

on a Sunday morning




I run out the red door,

framed on two sides

by empty planter boxes

whose life is held

in stasis

below ground

in places I cannot go.

Dressed in Sunday’s best,

I forget my rainboots

and ruin white tights

in the shifting sands,

trying to catch octopus

in salty pools

abandoned by the tide.



When my heart broke

(the first time)

a breeze spun

the North Pacific

into a frenzy.

I stood too close

to crashing waves

screaming a hurricane

from lungs too tired

to whisper.

Pushed back from the brink

with brine and salt,

ocean gospel

swallowing my tears.

KB Baltz was born in a Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea a month early and sideways. She has been doing things backward ever since. You can find her other work in Atlas and Alice, All Worlds Wayfinder, and Bullsh!t Lit.

Mark Evan Chimsky
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Michele Mekel
Quadriptych of Loss

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