Lindsay Tuggle

Lindsay Tuggle’s poetry has been published in HEAT, commissioned by the Red Room Company, and included in various journals and anthologies in the US and Australia. In 2009, her poem “Anamnesis” was awarded second prize in the Val Vallis Award for Poetry. In 2012, she is the recipient of an Australian Academy of the Humanities Travelling Fellowship. Lindsay grew up in the Southern United States, and migrated to Australia eleven years ago. She now lives in Austinmer, where she is working on a book of elegies.


The Arsonist’s Hymnal
wake to see if the trains are still running.

the beloved ones coalesce
in the gloaming,
almost persuaded.
in the afterglow of mall glut,
her veiled alien
hastens farther down
this last bathed hall.

          have you seen the vapors?

all dead arrive
unborn as lighthouses.
our eldest unfurled below
the stairwell under the baptistery
elevated as a drowning chamber
whose guests have vanished.

           her alias is stark.  loose-limbed.

summer is almost a covenant.
before darkness
she’s intent on devouring parables.
all others fall away
the consequence of habitual neglect.
ghosts die without ceasing;
guard trendsetters against
the perils of walk-in-closets.

           as soon as she’s finished washing her hair.

her materials form only metric tongues.
with solemn vigilance
we can’t be seen
echoes are laughter.
only these rituals endure:
          all night in dreams he sets fire to her eyes.




She dreamed a cemetery of glass tombs.
The perfume bottles were her favorite.

An estuary arsonist
          (eluding self-harm):
she refuses to bathe alone.

River viridity is dangerous:
          Honey locusts ghost the salt baskets.

Despite coastal housekeeping
tidal mouths breed
          vertical striations.

Nutrient densities render her blind,

Language is no longer a nomenclature.
Even her humming has meaning: a kind of
     swirling guttural echo.
Something you knew once.

Thoughtless recovery
swarms            against the sane
familiarity of lawnmowers,
        the creeping grace
                of      unseeing.


From New Madrid gully inland
we remember the day
the river flowed backward.

In the absence of coherent levees
shifting glacial loess
an unknown number drowned. 

The measure of loss
is in the submergence of trees. 

There’s an upside to angularity.
Sharpness invites reconstruction. 

The moral is integral burial:
illiterate confinement
supernatural as filth. 


The madness of trees
ringed in brackish immersion.
Roots mark intervals
of barren impermanence,
hoard pollen traces
in vanishing silt.
The delicate erosion
of Kalopin’s eyes:
residual        gladitsia          in
backwater muck. 

She’ll kind of ramble beautifully
her laughter    like bells. 

Water collects in
pockets of collarbone. 

Divers burn in shallow
basins.  One hundred
years later we hunch in
the elongation of aftermath.

She becomes fishmouthed
the obsession of swallowing
written beneath the soles of her feet
           another angling glaze.

Assemblage data reveals
a cedar arboreal influx. 

Lower soil analysis shows
ragweed is rare or absent. 

Cicadas are reckless breeders.

Its been dry for so long here
we made ourselves gowns
from this dust. 


How to capture
the unison language
of insects? 

She’s haltingly fluent
in the vanishing tendency
of the object

where descent
is watery and burns. 

An acrid metallic sound,
translated, roughly: 

The wet are pretty.
          All this
beckoning comes at a cost.


Author’s Note:

This poem responds to two bodies of water in western Kentucky—an area called Land Between the Lakes.  The first was formed by a series of earthquakes from December 1811 to February 1812.  The second was created following the floods of 1937, and gradually expanded for the dual purposes of flood control and hydroelectric power. Many towns and farms were flooded and relocated. Some residents refused to evacuate, and drowned.