top of page
  • By Jesse Keith Butler


After T. S. Eliot


We’ve lingered in the chambers of this sea-

slag-crusted wreckage—derelict, depth-raked, decrepit.

We grasp up past forgetfulness—hardening like a habit—

for perfect sun-furnished surfaces, flapped over distantly

by seagulls. Wreathed with seaweed, red and brown

like clotted blood, we’ve sunk deeper into ourselves.

The tide cringes back from us. The moon halves

its heft. Our unwinding dreams drift and drag us down

until human voices wake us. And we drown,

gasping and ghastly. And we drown, swamped in our clothes.

And we drown, grasping helpless hands. But all this time life grows

up soundlessly in us—deep, undisturbed, down

below our brittleness, it brims to daylight—the upsurge

of something pure and urgent and eager to emerge.

Jesse Keith Butler lives in Ottawa, Ontario, with his wife and two children. He recently won third place in the Kierkegaard Poetry Competition. You can find his poems in a variety of journals, including Blue Unicorn, Dappled Things, THINK, Ekstasis Magazine, The Orchards Poetry Journal, and Cloud Lake Literary. His first book, The Living Law, is forthcoming from Darkly Bright Press.


3 則留言


Thanks to the comment below for pointing out the TS Eliot reference; it's been quite a while since I read the quoted poem. I actually thought the style more reminiscent of Yeats as I was reading it for the first time.

You do interesting things with the sonnet form, turning it into a sort of semi-cento and varying the feet in the verses to mask the poem's otherwise quite orthodox regularity. (Also the rhyme was very subtle -- a nice touch).

The other remarkable feature of this poem is its darkness-to-light movement, bringing us from despair to a hope that finally comforts us in the end -- and that is poetry in the purest sense.


kurt rightmyer
kurt rightmyer

While we're waiting for something pure and urgent and eager to emerge, there's always Trump 2024.



The first, fifth, and ninth lines of this sonnet are taken directly from the last lines of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” In Eliot’s poem, Prufrock’s hesitance and crippling self-consciousness suggest that he will never be able to establish meaningful human relationships, but this poem suggests that his poetry, growing inside him, will enable him to connect with others—a much more hopeful conclusion.

bottom of page