Sally Bliumis-Dunn








The whales can’t hear each other calling

in the noise-cluttered sea: they beach themselves.

I saw one once—heaved onto the sand with kelp

stuck to its blue-gray skin.

Heavy and immobile,


it lay like a great sadness.

And it was hard to breathe with all the stink.

Its elliptical black eyes had stilled, were mostly dry,

and barnacles clustered on its back

like tiny brown volcanoes.


Imagining the other whales, their roving weight,

their blue-black webbing of the deep,

I stopped knowing how to measure my own grief.

And this one, large and dead on the sand,

with its unimaginable five-hundred-pound heart.



Flight 214


The news is still falling

in our kitchen

like invisible rain


as we eat the pink salmon,

the lettuce, the mashed potatoes.


Because now everything

glistens. The candles, the soft


folds of red napkins

each in its place,


as though it all were sacred—

the rain

must still be falling.


Not me, not anyone I know.


Earlier in the day, the terrible

news lifted too easily,


a cheap Mylar balloon

cut loose—a tinny flash.


Couldn’t even tell its color

against the sky.



Ode to Autumn



So many colors abandon the earth,

and go skyward to the trees

like origami birds,


scarlet, orange, creased

and folded into the mind

where these paper birds come alive,

the trees quiver a little—


this is where I can

still see you


in these gray branches

with brightly colored

birds that are not birds—envision you


still darning

the heels of Jimmy’s socks

those evenings after school


at the kitchen table when

you’d run your finger down our list—


not here in the duller green

where the last of the pink roses

are browning on the vine,


and along the fence,

your favorite lilies, wilted,


and everywhere

the hungry bees.



from ECHOLOCATION, Plume Editions/MadHatPress, 2018












Sally Bliumis-Dunn teaches Modern Poetry at Manhattanville College and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Her poems appeared in New Ohio Review, The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, PLUME, Poetry London, the NYT, PBS NewsHour, upstreet, The Writer’s Almanac, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day, and Ted Kooser’s column, among others. In 2002, she was a finalist for the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize. Her two books, Talking Underwater and Second Skin were published by Wind Publications in 2007 and 2010. Galapagos Poems published by Kattywompus Press in 2016. Her third full-length collection, Echolocation, was published by Plume editions/Madhat Press in March of 2018.


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