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hungry tsunami / tsunami as galactus

the hunger of trying to hold back
the hunger a little bit longer

the hunger of restraint and pullback
churn and growl of beached fishes
in an agitated bouillabaisse
liquid silver squirming on an empty shore

to lick the gilding from the buildings
like golden drizzles of caramel

to take the cake / flick off the crumbs

to raze the fruit / spit out the pits

the hunger of sucked-out marrow
the unwillingly pried-open oyster
the cracked and pillaged lobster claw

to shuck / to husk / to unshell
her way to what’s most tender

to dismantle the protective scrims
that signal a cache of rawness

to demolish defenseless succulence

the hunger of the liquid center
squirt of ganache in a Lindor truffle
chocolate lava cake’s molten fondant core

to feed past the end of greed

to feast past the end of want

to gorge past the borders of voraciousness
until she becomes the monstrous goddess
of binge / pure mercenary lack

the blooded face

blood in the water

the blood moon’s exposed sweet throat
with its lipsticked jugular bitten clean out


tsunami’s debris

her terrible radiance

snaking in a clockwise gyre
spiraling the North Pacific

pulverized cities flung back
to water like sprinkled furikake

her radio-waved wake
an awful flower blossoming

what sinks sinks / what floats floats

snarled tangle fronding the comb’s
tooth of Midway’s atoll

plastic bits clogged in the snag
of the Garbage Patch

she’s an unsubtle thief
a cryptic giver of gifts:

All Joy Air Freshener’s
diaspora of aerosol cans

a boy’s lucky soccer ball
head-butted from the waves

Harley Davidson wrecked
on the shores of British Columbia

Misawa Port’s 165-ton dock
washed up on Oregon’s Agate Beach
studded with the tiny garnish
of a stowaway Japanese starfish
Ryo un Maru / empty ghost ship’s
uncanny drifting across the Pacific
into the Gulf of Alaska
like a child’s paper boat

Ryo un Maru / good-luck ship
machine-gunned down
by a Coast Guard cutter
into scuttled blaze and flame

running shoes swift with bones
marathonning the waves
because everyone knows a ghost
is a ghost if it has no feet

heralds for colonies / of ghosts to come:

a bloat of oyster buoys
a landfill of washing machines
a traffic jam of cars
an armada of ghost ships
a siege of rubber ducks

her terrible radiance

mushroom spore / dandelion seed

shells of nebulae / shed by a supernova

what belongs to you / doesn’t

in the shattered absence
of an unraveling cosmos

what tiny bits of debris will you
unexpectedly ache for?

what small particles will you
cling to / as if you actually could?


origami of tsunami: a technical manual and glossary


all clear: after she’s swept it all away / even the sirens
amplitude: the rising tide of her hips
arrival time: when she rolls up to your door with seaweed salad
and fresh tofu in a bucket / a pulsing bouquet of
jellyfish bubbling like mylar balloons atop their
stingers and bristles / ready to sweep you off your

bathymetry: tsunami’s background check / her fbi file / her
origin   myths / her ground zero
bore: what she secretly thinks of you and your
milquetoasty efforts to salvage the world / your
heroic inspirational speeches and your blah blah
blah / what she thinks on the brink  / of
unleashing tsunamigeddon

(consolidated reporting
of earthquakes and tsunamis)

spyware that tracks her every point and
click / blue-gloved sack and pillage of her luggage
at the airport / her seismic four-square / her fb


eta: slo-mo time-lapse between bullet’s impact and
psychological trigger / arc between collision of
wants and teapot’s tempest sloshing / hard line of
the other shoe dropping / nanosecond between
threat perceived and the limbic’s panicky spill of
evacuation zones: you you and you

first motion: trauma’s ur-text
free field offshore profile: her glorious measurements undiminished by
corsets / or girdles / or dexedrine / or slim-fast /
or atkins / or slimvox / or ambislim / or dietrine /
or slimquick cleanse / or stimuretix / or colonoxy /
or ayds


harbor resonance: shame spiral / negative reaction formation’s
fibonacci of nuclear fission / negative thought
loop’s slow gyre of radioactive decay
horizontal inundation                          distance: 
tsunami tries out for the olympics / maybe shot
put / maybe javelin / possibly high jump / not
curling / not ribbon twirling

coordination group for
the tsunami warning system in the pacific)
tsunami’s hmo sans aflac
inundation:  tsunami’s inbox / tsunami’s complaint box / your
box / how wet will it get?
(international tsunami information center)
tsunami’s human resources file / tsunami’s bio /
tsunami’s cv / tsunami on wikipedia / tsunami’s
tumblr / tsunami’s       exes



leading depression wave: dead calm of dull leaden sadness / chest pounding
open the hysterical night / glimmer of nova or
surfer or morg or stardust or some other shiny
fleeting nymph underneath 4:00 a.m.’s bedside light
heralding the arrival of galactus come to shove a
straw deep inside her and suck her puny crumpling
juicebox dry
leading positive wave: she turns and faces the threatening villagers with
their flaming sticks / gives them the finger and
drowns them / that’ll show them / the end
local/regional tsunami: sick day due to personal earthquake / mental
health day due to psychic landslide

marigram:  allowable weight of emotional baggage
marigraph: because size matters
(mean lower water)
when tsunami’s a bad drunk
(surface wave magnitude)
second-wave tsunami

(moment magnitude)

her grandiosity / the rising image of her false
self / earthquake survival strategies vis-a-vis
anachronistic coping mechanisms such as adopting
the tsunami posture etc.

(national oceanic and atmospheric administration)
tsunami’s psychic hotline shilled by her very own
dionne warwick lookalike / her oracle / her
japanese singing twins
(national weather service)
tsunami’s publicist


(pacific tsunami warning center)
tsunami does the diaspora / tsunami strikes back at
period: universal punctuation between peak and trough /
midol and hell / uncontrollable weeping held back
tight behind the eyes
p-wave: tsunami’s geek name


runup: tsunami’s thug name

seiche:  tsunami’s stripper name
(seismic sea wave
warning system)
vodka and ativan and crying jags, o my !
strike-slip earthquake: tsunami makes a freudian slip and falls into a vast
vast canyon
s-wave: tsunami’s gangsta name

teletsunami: her weekly hard-core nature reality show taking
the globe by storm / only ! / on the discovery ! /
channel !
(the project for tsunami
hazard reduction using
system technology)
she dons a strap-on redux
thrust earthquake: tsunami bottoms / confuses thrust earthquake for a
trust earthquake
tidal wave: tsunami’s derby name
(the center for the
tsunami inundation mapping effort)
age-defying tsunami / prevents wrinkles and fault
lines / improves elasticity / instant hydration
tsunami earthquake:  the one that breaks her heart
tsunamigenic earthquake: the ones that craze it with hairline fractures
tsunami evacuation maps: in the mountains she escapes from herself / shape-
shifts into a cloud / french-exhaling sighs of mist in
relief / impresses the mountain goats / catastrophe
tsunami magnitude: her fierceness / her speedballed locomotion / her
hubris / the sashay of her hips / the fatale of her
tsunami watching:  toms lingering peepingly outside her window / her
fb feed creepers and clickers / adrenaline-junkied
tsunami chasers on the discovery channel / birders
notebooking tsunami sightings  / documenting her
for the rare ornithological specimen that she is
(tsunami warning system)
the sirens / the loudspeakers / the radioed meme

urgent tsunami warning: tsunamigeddon imminent
(united states national seismic network)
tsunami’s shrink / her reiki healer / her guru / her
yoda / her primal scream institute


(west coast/alaska tsunami warning center)
tsunami cruises through alaska / a supposedly
fun thing she’ll never do again
wrap around effect: the ouroboros of her terrible radiance





Lee Ann Roripaugh’s most recent volume of poetry, Dandarians, is forthcoming from Milkweed Press in 2014.  She is the author of three other volumes: On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year (Southern Illinois University Press, 2009), Year of the Snake (Southern Illinois Press, 2004), and Beyond Heart Mountain (Penguin, 1999). She is currently a professor of English at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Director of Creative Writing and Editor-in-Chief of South Dakota Review.