Thickens, Plot

Ruth Baumann

In hordes the fishermen arrive. Like plankton like salt.
The dark begins to glow in itself. Needily thickly.
Head steamed head cooked. Is how the mermaids describe.
The mermaids drop the most terrified song.
Also courageous. It washes the ocean
into a new shape. One day nothing will exist
but the flame under the surface.
They drop their hands
from their eyes. What little idea the men have.


Loneliness is a tell.
What cards in a hurricane? What game?
The mermaids’ speech at a rapid clip.
The notes the doctors take, they miss
where lightning claws from the mermaids
like a new reality. They ask for sugar.
They thump their tails, stir spoonful
after spoonful. The waves will call they warn.
No well / no well / no well.

Ruth Baumann holds an MFA from the University of Memphis, and is pursuing her PhD at Florida State University. Her chapbook I’ll Love You Forever & Other Temporary Valentines won the Salt Hill Dead Lake Chapbook Contest in 2014. She won an AWP Intro Journals Project Award in 2014, and poems are published or forthcoming in Colorado Review, Sonora Review, Sycamore Review, The Journal, Third Coast, and others listed at