Eli Coyle

You are diseased, San Joaquin
can’t you see the cancerous corporations
pinning needles in your chest?

Your keepers in cotton dyed tees
with almond eyes of the sun 

With bodies of pistachio
cracked open and discarded 

Foster Farms who slaughter
three million turkeys in the jungles of Sinclair
one million chickens in the streets of Livingston
one million humans
in the bottomless pockets
of sprawling metropolis 

In the Cowschwitz feedlots
by the hundred thousands
coalescing in their own shit


The trajectory can’t be stopped, San Joaquin
the pastoral has gone away 

The apples are wet pith
they call them delicious

The strawberries watered bland
the tomatoes tart
they have no blood

Seasons come and go
on the shelves
of carbon footprint

Wrapping plastic
around the years buried
the landfill a festering wound

What is done is done
through the body
one loss folding into another


When I think of your tule-fogged fields
your hundred years stay with me

So does your alluvium belly
spilling flowers from the mouth
of sudden rain and sun

Oh, San Joaquin
I can see it in your face!

Your eyes of ultraviolet
table grapes engorged

Have long turned these vines to wine
one billion dimes over 

The wicker baskets empty
the bowls filled to the brim 

Because it is true,
you are a vessel, a vitality
dilating into exhaustion 

This is the end, San Joaquin
give me your hand

My cavernous eyes
are wide open and with you

Let my generation crawl in

Let the dust fall in from the sky
and pull the years in after

About the Author

Eli Coyle received his MA in English from California State University, Chico, and is currently a MFA candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno. His poetry has recently been published or is forthcoming in: Barely South Review, New York Quarterly, Caustic Frolic, Tule Review, Camas, the Cosumnes River Journal, Deep Wild, the Helix, and elsewhere.