right hand pointing



Water Weight


Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco


right hand pointing


copyright 2018 by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco


cover by Dale Wisely




“Water weight” first appeared in Eunoia Review; “The Old Dam” first appeared in The Potomac Review; “Tropical Ken Finds the Ocean” and “Measuring” first appeared in The Lake; a version of “Herring” first appeared in Gnarled Oak; and “Line” first appeared in Red River Review.


























































water weight

how much you had to




Four Mouths Deep


We would line bottles

on the counter:

four mouths deep.


You said

it sounded like a fortress,


and I thought fast


and said oceans,

but I didn’t have

the time to get much



blank fish



and the plants

no one had named.


We never got those bottles

back, the two of us,


or anything.








































































Tropical Ken Finds the Ocean



What did you

think, as the water

found the joints

of everything, and foamed

and churned: sand wave then sand

fusing together

and the sounds became                                                                                                                                   the ocean

and the fish

tossed like bright

capes, and then the little boy

who’d held you

was a doll, too small

to see.



The Old Dam


The old dam comes up

like bones


out of the water


so it looks

like it is rising:


a dull cry.


It is your mother’s

cancer coming back,


and the thin beam

of her arm

around your waist.


This is the way

you knew.


You sit next


to Lake McClure

and the sun


marks out your outline

on the gravel.





























Crows: Part 1


The crows remembered




over, with your backpack

like a baby

and your hair stuck to your cheeks.


They stood waiting

on the fence outside the school, but

they said






If they are right

and the ocean fills the street

I’ll shut


the door

and watch


for herring

out the window. (Schools


of silver, chandeliers

of thinning




Half a Religion


My son wants to catch

the fish —

just eyes

and spine —

next to the boat

launch, so we stand

knee-deep in water,

where they gather,

half-clear souls,

and we are too

big for their world,

wider than rocks,

than fallen oars,

our skin faint

longing in the small waves,

and they swim away

from us,

joining and breaking,

joining, breaking.


Crows: Part 2


In your room,

ten years later, we leaned back

against the wall


passing a bottle of cheap wine

back and forth.

You said that once


you found a dead crow

in the field behind your house


and watched the others

mourning it


a small crazed group

with bright hard



You said its wings


lifted lightly

in the wind.



of submerged lake grass

campfire ghosts


dive boat

fish swim through

our shadows

Castro Street


Light and fog. Old curtains


in the windows

and the men

walking back home after the bars.


(They brought flowers

when a neighbor died,


sprays of perfect



Crows: Part 3


Crows live everywhere, these



When you had gone,

I rolled the windows down

and watched the crows pick things:


styrofoam and bread and trashed

receipts. Their wingbeats echoed


through the parking lot

like slaps.




How much

of my father

was his drive

home every night

the burr

of radio, the sun

held beneath


and the road

he never looked at





Red Crabs


I have re-

remembered them


as little dancers, their

smooth movements


just like ribbons

pulled apart.




Someone else buried you;

they sent us



There: your ashes

a thin mist

above a stranger’s

white-gloved hand.


There: the blue line

of the ocean, like a space

to write your name.


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Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California's Central Valley, where she works as a librarian and co-edits One Sentence Poems. Her two previous chapbooks, Various Lies and Lion Hunt, are available from Finishing Line Press and Plan B Press, respectively.


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