Matt Zambito is the author of The Fantastic Congress of Oddities (Cherry Grove Collections), and two chapbooks, Guy Talk and Checks & Balances (Finishing Line Press). New poems appear in Slice, Pembroke Magazine, Soundings East, Broken Plate, Slipstream, and elsewhere. He writes from Spokane, Washington.

Why We Need the Ocean,
Why the Ocean Needs Us

Matt Zambito


Because the thick weeds washed up

aren’t weeds at all, the way an unfolded map of 

Guam isn’t Guam, but paper. Because the waves

actually leave green crumbs behind, 

a trail we should follow 

all the way home, home salty home.           




Because with all its force, insistent

as genes, and all its will, it requires

something to be fearless for, something able to mistreat it 

as if it were the wise ones who pulsed long before 

the potential of us. Because if we can 

love it in return, then we must, and so we must.

Sea Turtles, Certainly

Matt Zambito


All skeletons – Hitchcock’s, 

every barbet’s, the penultimate 

Tyrannosaur’s, and yours (one 

horrifying day) – are former warriors 

gone rogue. If we swam into 


an underwater cave of ancient 

sea turtles, certainly 

we’d witness the heroic repose, 

the shells as shields now beautifully useless 

as caskets. But we can’t dive deep enough 


into oceans. And we won’t discover anything 

outside the present tense. And each 

bereavement is a burial at sea –

the saline once washing on the shores 

of gregarious cells, suddenly 


still as a sand dollar on display. 

We’re already beached on ourselves 

as it is. Oh, it is a wonderful disease 

this being, this being doomed muscle, 

magnificence, cytoplasm, skull.


Poem with its Medical Sodium Pentothal Card

Matt Zambino


Nothing you do tonight will be

better than this is. Nothing

you logic will make P imply Q

like you imagine it will. Nothing,


you know, comprises most of the known

cosmos and your eyes’ acquired atoms.

Nothing you missionize should make


realists believers in Balaam’s

talking donkey (though no earthling is

deserving of beatings). Nothing

you own do you even remotely own,

but borrow rudely until breathing ceases.


Nothing you asperse becomes a theory of

anything, but theories of calumny.

Nothing you, a blah, can blah will blah

like blah. Nothing you babbled as a baby

or yesterday means nothing. Nothing,


you beautiful bundle of joy,

can return your innocence

like planting broccoli can. Nothing you


plant in loam will bloom and wax

without insect sex. Nothing you

ever do (now do you feel

it?) will be worse than this honesty is.