Devon Wootten

Five Poems from Gimme the Pretty

This is sufficient.

See also, perhaps—
see also,
the names of certain rivers.

Possible cognates.
A somewhat similar form.

Reader, it has been suggested.


Reader, mark this diffident tone — is and has.
Is and has and what thoughts I’d’ve…

a slip.


Would that you were & would that you had—

This is the barest of commitments.

Reader, let us suppose
(You’re underwhelmed—I get it.)

a truly epic volta.


So this is where we find ourselves.
Suggestive metaphor.
Slow retrograde.

I’ll tell you what. I can manage throve.
I can manage probable.




In the same sense, a reduction,

the first

a long lone (I meant) a long line

elemental — what’s not sensical,

i.e., a parent, predicative—
keep, stay, etc.,

except when noted,

any stretch of water

of sufficient depth.

Not sinking, not aground.


Reader, make fast what calms and fogs oblige.

& if ever,—
if ever a body’s

whelves what makes you whole — reader,

we are almost only literal.

& in every way unsound.

Thou kyndlest, &
thou setst a flame.

Reader, we are borne unto & brim-full —
havened in what likens
& in what we cast aside.




Reader, I’d’ve left this undone, gainsaid.
What mis-occasions & what kins us whole.


Reader, I could not stay the sea —
the sky’s
belikened visage —
source and recompense.


Reader, I’d unalloy.
I’d belacken.

Reader, I’d although desire in you.


Reader, what is not to love.

Believe you me.

Some say a rite reversed leaves nothing
that wonders reft of wonder fail.
I say

what thisness does, undid, beguiles
& you —
you’s a binding,


You know from tides. You know from wake & whence.

That one should be until & to such extent.
This trues, this lightens, this fills the sails.




This respite
[Wait for it.]

I supposes.


Reader, you’ll’ve noticed then’s implicit.
From one, the other
& all’s gone pear-shaped.

Reader, what’ve you said that’s made me so?


A taking-stock—

she said,
will this end up in a poem,

& she said,
I am rift.


unsaying’s not a thing.

& when’s no less a becoming.

call it back.

Call now’s unending & what

ceaselessness betides
as unto you a song.

O, stark evermore.
She’s the distance.

She’s that what that belies & more—

everything has at least one definition.
& is this supposed to comfort me?




let’s neither of us fuck this up

let’s to the fullest extent—

in keeping.

Reader, either’s the white peaks

& uh,
what’s beyond compare—

*(<———— cowardice, duh.)

If nothing’s as readable as something,
then where’s the slip—
then where’s the loss.
this is what you came for—
realer done right.

(finger the break /
what’s broke in twain)

What I could not say & the moment before—
goose-skein & what ends ever-leaming.

every poem’s the first poem—an O cast whenward.


You can’t have it both ways—
what’s cast’s as good
as thrown & I—
I’s a knowing un-done.

what’s order but the light in lightlessness.

Devon Wootten teaches at Whitman College. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in BAX 2018, Fence, LIT, Aufgabe, Colorado Review, Drunken Boat, Octopus, and RHINO, among others. A former resident of Yaddo and Anderson ranch, he is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Montana. Devon lives with his wife among the wheat fields of southeast Washington. He also curates bestamericanyouand wikipoesis.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.