Except by Nature

Except by Nature

Except by Nature

Except by Nature


"What I like best about Sandra Alcosser's poetry is that it always draws me back, in its beauty and mystery, for the pleasure of rereading and rereading it. The stitching that binds the elements within each of her poems is sure and subtle, as invisible and perfect as the stitching that creates a forest or the threads that link the stars. The poems in Except by Nature are full of the riches and the risks, the words and the contemplations of the earth, and the place of the human within those realms." Pattiann Rogers "Except by Nature is an exceptional collection: feisty, accomplished, and mature, its poems brim with serious delights." Eamon Grennan "Sandra Alcosser's superbly sure-voiced poems possess intelligence and passion in equal measure, and they explore, question, surprise, and inform in utterly distinctive ways. Here is a poet who knows the fine-grained textures of thought, the precise distinctions of feeling, and the lush wisdom of language itself. Specific and grounded in the things of the world, yet winged with imaginative mind, Except by Nature is an extraordinary work." Jane Hirshfield Sandra Alcosser's first book, A Fish to Feed All Hunger, was selected by James Tate as the AWP Award Series Winner in Poetry. Her work has appeared in the American Poetry Review, the New Yorker, the Paris Review, Poetry, and the Pushcart Prize series. Alcosser lives in Montana, and teaches in the graduate writing program at San Diego State University.


I'm linked with the fate of the world's disasters and only have a little freedom to live or die


My number is small. a hundred pounds of water,
A quart of salt. Her digit is a garment.

I wear her like a shadow. We judge each other,
My number and I. She is the title. the license.

The cash drawer. My random number.
She protects me from myself. She desires me.

She says she's only one of thirty million species.
She wishes she were more than anecdotal evidence.

Being human she can erect elaborate scaffolding
To protect her emotions, can make an excuse of obvious

Dramatic proportions. My number is inconsequential
With dreams of glory. She spends three or four days each year

Just opening her mail. Do you know how many animals
Will be given lethal injections while you read this poem.

Five billion people = half a billion empty bellies.
If there is a god, why can't that god be smaller than my number,

Tiny, soft-spoken so she'd have to pay attention.
My number is a female impersonator (she has multiple meanings).

Her shape is misleading. the further she is from unity, the more deeply
Involved with the world. Like the winds and the grasses, she wears herself down.

She lies under hot flags of lilies, sings like a bee.
She gets so lonely she recites for her cat. She makes her face up

Like a death mask. She hangs her dresses on the clothesline outside.
Together we dance -- my number and her best dresses.

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