Alien Guest–by Guinotte Wise

Marshland out back. Soggy, sucking. I skip and splash along the outskirts to keep from sinking. Then a rise. Then a hollow. These different strata and the stone shelf beneath house crystals that are ground and pressured to release soft light at night. It comes and goes. The earthquakes spider outward from Oklahoma, the aftershocks like unfinished thoughts unfelt here in southeast Kansas but disturbing the shelf just enough. You have to look indirectly to see the lights, more like sensing them.

I go to the ridge and down again to old growth trees that form a woods, even
a small forest, timed to coincide with earliest pre-dawn and the
coyote’s waking when they stretch and howl and gibber flushing rabbits
and small animals. In the marsh, with silvered surface, the crane rises and
shivers it, ripples it outward. The crane is gone in a whisper, but where it was still
ghosts. Like the lights. Like the familiars I feel around me.

And currents, too in the earth I’m on, Teslaic, telluric, you feel them like you see the lights, obliquely, anything that lives here knows them intimately, anything but man, and even though I sense them, I am alien. I am just a guest.


[Appeared in Scattered Cranes, a collection of poetry by G. Wise.]

Guinotte Wise’s work has appeared in numerous journals including Atticus, Rattle, Ekphrastic Review, The MacGuffin, and Southern Humanities Review. His first short story collection (Night Train, Cold Beer) won publication by a university press and enough money to fix the soffits. A Pushcart nominee, he writes and welds steel sculpture on a farm in Southeast Kansas. His latest book of poetry, Horses See Ghosts, was published this month. Some work is at

 Guest Editor Roy J. Beckemeyer is from Wichita, Kansas. His poetry book, Music I Once Could Dance To (Coal City Press, 2014) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (Little Balkans Press, 2017) together with Caryn Mirriam Goldberg. That anthology collected poems that appeared on this website from 2014-2016. His latest book, Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) contains ekphrastic poems, inspired by a variety of artists’ depictions of angels, that “resound and sometimes subvert expectations” (Tyler Robert Sheldon), that provide “a kaleidoscope of history, art, culture, the sacred and the everyday” (Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg).


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