Phoebe Reeves

grunt work

There is no groundwork extensive enough to guard
against collapse—the silent ground-zero of no impact,
the slow click of the counter, the perimeter growing

as Spring rinses rains through grates and the groundwater
seeps into its accustomed aquifers. Grungy sunsets
in Superfund graveyards, the stockpiles of irradiated

sheetrock and rebar buried under grass, a strange
garden. Try to calculate the everyday risk, the actuarial
table’s statistical guarantees. Growth and decay

circle each other like two poles of a magnet.
For a thousand years, birds shit off a cliff and flowers
grow from that guano. The guanaco picks a path up the hillside,

scraping teeth over fibrous stems. The grub turns soil
inside out. If you stand in a grove of old pines,
you can hear them clicking their counters, too.


A flurry of electrons in the tube flutter
and stammer light in mercuric fog.

The Flying Dutchman waits patiently
on the foam to foist its ill-omened

cargo on our deck: fillies and foals
weak-kneed, the foibles of first hours,

the virgin flush. The tidal flux in
the estuary fights the fluvial flow

the river insists upon. None of us
has any more class than a velvet

Elvis under glass, the fluorescent
light fluting its buzz above him.

Author Portrait

Phoebe Reeves earned her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College, and now teaches English at the University of Cincinnati’s Clermont College in rural southern Ohio, where she advises East Fork: An Online Journal of the Arts. Her chapbook The Lobes and Petals of the Inanimate was published by Pecan Grove Press in 2009. Her poems have recently appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Drunken Boat, Phoebe, and Memorious.

View the website of Phoebe Reeves