Submersion by Sam Barbee

My eyes close, surrounded by bluest sea.

I bob virgin tides, never backstroked before.

Body prone, angled headfirst into swells.

Parabolic currents baptize, salt water’s

gender nurturing each raw scar to a wrinkle.


No corner to bend in underwater dark, light

assembles the surface to snatch starlight.

My confession gasps, sealed in single syllables.

I dream of quaking flowers reopening,

emerging from dew.  An apple tree


offers its ripe rosary.  Yet here, bound

in barnacles rather than fruit, I peer

at planets and galaxies: benchmarks silenced

by waves against my ears.  Beseeching me –

deny Atlantic’s weight and Satanic reach. 


My thirst submerges in nervous recollection,

specific gravity skewed.  I realize hunger

for shoreline as brine offers no flavor.  Wet

stitches up my wrist dissolve, and leave

only pink ellipses, a vanishing map to shore.
Photo by Mariana Montrazi on

About the Poet:

Sam Barbee has a new collection, Apertures of Voluptuous Force (2022, RedhawkPublishing).  He has three previous poetry collections, including That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016.  Also, Uncommon Book of Prayer (2021, Main Street Rag) which chronicles family travels in England. 

His poems have appeared recently in Salvation South, Literary Yard, Snapdragon, Asheville Poetry Review, Adelaide Literary Magazine, and Poetry South, among others; plus on-line journals American Diversity Report, Verse Virtual, The Voices Project, and Medusa’s Kitchen; and is a two-time Pushcart nominee.


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