Sneath Lane

An exit sign by the airport freeway, the snatch of a laugh before the antsy terminal:
a secret name for some lair or hide, a snake’s sheath, a snail’s stealthy path of slime;

till one time high on arrival & reunion (skin & eye electric, your body within reach)
we succumb to a mile’s distraction & are quickly siphoned off eastwardly, wrongly,

on a ramrod avenue skirting a vast green, close-shaven deathscape, soldier’s Elysium,
stone sails sunk in scrolls of wet grass–Walt’s abundant hair of graves–still serried

in ranks all these years after the final terror at Normandy, Sicily, in Korea, Vietnam;
electric being, skin of longing, untamed newness smothered beneath the smug loam

& enemies, too, sequestered under the flag of eternity, defeated servants of the Axis
who breathed out their strangeness & dread under Pacific skies, sucking peace’s pith;

& a last slice of lawn to stow away the fallen in America’s longest war, against itself,
the bodies of Port Chicago, burnt & slung into the one black hole, call it Sneath Lane.

San Francisco

Alissa Valles

Alissa Valles

Alissa Valles is the author of the poetry books Orphan Fire (2008) and Hospitium (2019), as well as Anastylosis (2014), a limited thermal paper edition printed for the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London; she has been the recipient of fellowships from the NEA and the Poetry Foundation and awards from Poetry magazine and the Modern Language Asociation. She has also published translations of Polish poets Zbigniew Herbert and Ryszard Krynicki, among others.
Alissa Valles

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Author: Alissa Valles

Alissa Valles is the author of the poetry books Orphan Fire (2008) and Hospitium (2019), as well as Anastylosis (2014), a limited thermal paper edition printed for the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London; she has been the recipient of fellowships from the NEA and the Poetry Foundation and awards from Poetry magazine and the Modern Language Asociation. She has also published translations of Polish poets Zbigniew Herbert and Ryszard Krynicki, among others.