Of Aquanauts


Submersibles tethered: strangers

to see into the silence

the hidden coelacanth suspended

in the womb. They sing in high-pitched Doppler

to glint its scales; when nothing sings back,

Calypso’s monitors are black

(black is the sound of nothing there).

On the screen you are crosshatched—

mysterious like an echo: an obscure, half-told

fable forged by the clatter

of hammer banging anvil: my Hephaestus, my Hephaestus, my ear,


smithy ear and you in the clanging.

In the black, black everywhere

of the nothing there you consider


the immense aloneness in silence,

the comprehension of:

“you’re not alive, if not ever heard.”

You consider disappearance with

pantomimed screams; this is how

it is through liquid-filled lungs, but

the soul wills to be heard;

it wills to see the other side of nothing; it

utters, it utters, it utters instead

from the heart a constant pulse, pause and pulse

to look out as the ultrasound explores within.

James E. Allman, Jr.’s credentials—degrees in biology and business—qualify him for an altogether different trade. However, he easily tires of the dissected and austerely economized. He is a dabbler with an expensive photography-habit and a poetry-dependency. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2010, his work appears, or is forthcoming, in The Los Angeles Review, decomP, Anemone Sidecar and Splash of Red, amongst others. He’s written reviews for Rattle as well as other journals, blogs, and sundries, and is the co-founder of an artist community called Continuum.