From a Lost Book of Divination

I see the sky burning as tillers find 

            they’ve planted the wrong crops. 

Men with flaming ties will split fruit from rind, 

            feeding the hungry with slop 


that never lived. Hairless dogs will gallop. 

            Baring white eyes, colts will go blind. 

Drooling, sedated children will yawp. 

            Before chloride skies burn, scribes will find 


beggars fulfilling what my book divined. 

            Lesioned beasts will wither—along with hope. 

Licking posterity’s ink from “undersigned,” 

            leaving oaths in obscure scraps, 


a dragon will drowse till its scheme develops. 

            Like a vine, the reptile will unwind 

its gaseous torso and tail up 

            above the people—tyrannous, enshrined. 


A new city will be designed 

            to fit in a radioactive wall. Drop 

by drop, acid tears will fall. Mined, 

            they’ll taint blood with a poison no mop 


can expunge. Spiral wings will loom atop 

            the city to protect the confined. 

But outside urban limits, it won’t be stopped: 

            the dragon will stretch in its lair, claws grinding. 

The sky will burn. 




                             --- an anonymous nineteenth-century photograph of a Native-American boy 

Come to water as to a page.  

Point your fishing-rod and trawl,  

scrawl the muddy floor. Reflection  

swims into itself: bow meeting  

bone—outline of a beak, 

outline of another boy poking  

his fishing-rod up 

where yours impales  

water’s skin. Tilt your head    

into his liquid shadow—   

read his featureless face. One 

becomes many: 

ghost-shirts whorl 

like sage smoke. Ghosts  

dissolve into a pollen trail. Chants  

warble through the valley  

where the dog-star web leads, where 

you surely return.  

The boy below the lake  

waits, cawing the Nevada sun  

to flood canyons with wraiths:  

they feast on trout and bitterroot,  

they feast on acorns and bergamot, 

they feast on sweet cicely and violets, 

their mouths erased like a smudge.  




Livid lacerations on gray. 

Chisels etch our granite like hot blades  

scarifying flesh.  

Trains & cars grub  

through our primordial hulk,  

volcanic clay.  


into slab and tile, into entablature 

and pillar, we 

—the expendable stones— 


into secular parabolas.  

Dense as complicity,  

we buttress skyscrapers.  

Without our heft, our dark  

schist, those stories would soon  

relinquish their gleam. 

Color of wind, color of mind. 


Copyright (c) 2013 by Dean Kostos from his book Rivering, Spuyten Duyvil Press.

All rights including electronic are reserved by the author. 


                --after a surrealist drawing by Benjamin Palencia

In arid elsewhere,
musical bones leak
             melodies, released

by nuclear wind.
Gray leaves sprout, confusing
               corrosive heat

for spring.
The horizon line slices into

Acidic as an aquatint,
sun etches
                 faces of inhabitants

who delight
in hearing
                 wounds’ laughter.


Otherwhere: a new poem by Dean Kostos (C) 2015. All rights, including electronic reserved for the author.

Eco-Poems by

Dean Kostos

Dean Kostos’s collections include Rivering,Last Supper of the Senses, The Sentence That Ends with a Comma, and the chapbook Celestial Rust. He co-edited Mama’s Boy: Gay Men Write about Their Mothers (a Lambda Book Award finalist) and edited Pomegranate Seeds: An Anthology of Greek-American Poetry (its debut reading was held at the United Nations). His poems have appeared in over 300 journals and anthologies, such as Boulevard, Chelsea, Cimarron Review, The Cincinnati Review, Mediterranean Poetry (Sweden), Southwest Review, Stand Magazine (UK), Stranger at Home, Token Entry, Vanitas, Western Humanities Review, and on Oprah Winfrey’s Web site His choral text, Dialogue: Angel of War, Angel of Peace, was set to music by James Bassi and performed by Voices of Ascension. His literary criticism has appeared on the Harvard UP Web site, in Talisman, and elsewhere. He has taught at Wesleyan, The Gallatin School of NYU, The City University of New York, and he has served as literary judge for Columbia University’s Gold Crown Awards. A recipient of a Yaddo fellowship, he also serves on the editorial board of Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora. His poem “Subway Silk” was recently translated into a film by Canadian filmmaker Jill Clark.