TOM CHANDLER is the Rhode Island Poet Laureate, and has been named Phi Beta Kappa Poet at Brown University. His work has appeared in Poetry, Boulevard, The New York Quarterly, Christian Science Monitor, and many other journals.   His third collection, Wingbones, was published in hardcover by Signal Books.

O'er the ramparts I watch you come
gallantly streaming, buckskin
cornlikker stinking of texas.

There must be a simpler way, I plead
to make this silly sacrifice.
Why can't we all just get along?
Maybe we could offer to hate ourselves,
budget more flowers, build them a jetport,
import their sweaters.

But the walls of the mission are dark
tonight, damp with immaculate purpose.
You tamp the coonskin lid down tight,
wait grinning to guzzle pure fire
even as cruel Santa Anna prepares,
pomading his glistening hair in the mirror.

Tom Chandler


On nights of sliced moon
the lobsters mass in vast arroyos
under the fields of the sea.
They herd together, rake crusted
mud from cartilage scuppers,
browse the silt for nutrients,
mate stiffly beneath the invisible sky.

Their minds are like pearls set
in flexible carapace, their thoughts
less than bubbles that slip to the surface,
random arrangements of diluted oxygen
announcing the annual congress
and diaspora, as each cycle in season
their lives form a circle to the clacking
of thousands of claws and they merge
to surge across rock bottom, toward
what is for each a spasm of passion
which they fathom in ways we
cannot know, wrapped as they are
in a skeletal sheath, wearing their
selves on their sleeves.

Tom Chandler