Fire Island


What use is there in running for the ferry?
          Or in conveying sham chagrin by text?
What need have those expecting you to worry?
          Until the last, won’t there be a next?


How good it is to bide a while at the dockside bar.
How good to wait to carry the rain across the bay when practicable.
How good to then, only when good and ready,

navigate the cloyed lanes, locate the WiFi-lacking shack
where aunts and nieces talk of this and that. 
They say that nothing ever happened here except the dune buggy tragedy. 


And sleep, sleep to rote’s erratic rhythms,
sleep to the roof tattoo. 
And gray light seeping into the room. 

Red cedar, long-fingered pitch pine, 
though tenacious, hold the sky
as hands hold water.


The rain is easing up.
The rain is moving on. 
The rain is raining somewhere else.

In the Sunken Forest naiads molt.
Dragonflies swarm, fleeting along the beveled strand, 
along the turbid white and silver sea. 


Decades late we recreate the dunes. 
Uncle Of-By-and-For-us, in the pursuit of property, 
shells out what the market should bear.

And so repairs are made to homes that will be razed. 
This man examines the level.
That man wields the hammer.

Another case of stairs rises above pilings, 
improving on what Sandy wrecked. 
Our machines have mangled more of us than all our wars combined. 

Breaking, this man crouches
in a shady spot, that man
swims, another surfs.


And we will fly the dragonfly,
setting it high in the wind, 
the string wound 

around driftwood and knotted
to be unknotted, letting it fly
as long as it will.


Now and then an aunt or niece
relays word of remote calamity – 
this nation’s invaded, that craft’s crashed – 

but more agreeably they balk, opt instead to saunter down again
the gentler tropes of memory
and on through other people – 

who tries his best, who trifles – 
tonight’s meal, tomorrow’s skies, 
sea glass’s scarcity – one might guess 

we litter less – the buck’s tick tally, 
and nothing ever happens here.



About the Author: Matthew Dulany has previously contributed to Poydras Review. More of his work can be read online at BlazeVox, Grey Sparrow, Hiram Poetry Review, RipRap, and Roanoke Review. He lives in Maryland.


Little plastic cowboys and Indians
from the North Pole dollar store –
some green, some blue, some butternut,

some already maimed – did a little
to help fill out the children’s stockings.
Not played with, they sit now

on the mantel, atop the little tin piano
and crowding round the tin player
forever raising his tin tankard, forever

ready for the little ragtime refrain
to be wound up again, to amuse us
here in another century still.

More on the poet,
Matthew Dulany:
My recent and forthcoming work includes stories in The Northern Virginia Review and RipRap, and poems in Kestrel, Noctua Review, Salamander, and Tribeca Poetry Review.


Snow can still be found
on the western side of South Mountain.
The sun will swing around again

and what is brown will soon be green.
Exiting Regal Cinema, the boy glances
at the girl beside him as she talks

about no matter what, as no matter what
the moon courses through the eastern sky
and the north wind recedes.

More on the Author
Matthew Dulany: My recent work can be found in Talking River, Pembroke Magazine, and Bryant Literary Review. I dedicate this poem to those mourning in Newtown.