Lucian Mattison


US-Argentinean poet and translator, Lucian Mattison, is the author of two books of poetry, Reaper's Milonga (YesYes Books, 2018) and Peregrine Nation (Dynamo Verlag, 2017). His poetry, short fiction, and translations appear in numerous journals including Hayden's Ferry Review, Hobart, The Offing, Puerto Del Sol, Waxwing, and have been featured on He is currently based out of Sevilla and edits poetry for Big Lucks. Read more at

Twitter: @luciannumerouno


All wilderness
arrives as
an unwieldy fish
beaten against
a rock. What’s left
is nothing
more than a form
of beauty, acceptance
of discomfort
in human
in the electrical
desert of the head—
ablutions our barcodes.
Returning to nature
is never so
simple as winding
the umbilical
like garden hose.
Will ages and age
is willing to concede
to this motion.
Teeth sinking
into the belly 
of a lesser creature,
I’ll never accept
or forget my life
is only evidence
of one larger wade
of mother
out into the world—
the instant
I break skin,
a dolphin fin
appears, glides 
a shallow arc
on the edge
of her consciousness. 



Sometimes it’s like they’ve dropped
a handful of marbles 

of all sizes, pieces
of universe expand and roll, radiate
                     from the wooden singular 

                     point. A heel
strike on linoleum, clicks
of untrimmed dog nails—the animal 

barks incessantly, dumbest dog alive
tethered overhead like a balloon in the wind.        

         I try not to hate this animal,
so pointless it is,
                               no fault of its own.
It whines neglect below muffled
arguments, frustrations a trumpet 

         and descending the scale.
         Then there is sleep. The morning

         presses down, coffee grounds
lodged in the gaps of teeth. I rise below 

them from the grave, mouth agape, here

with the occasional cricket, house
centipede, spider—sleep rolled away 

from the eyes like heavy granite.

The unmade bed
         is a swirl of flattened blades of grass,
dampness beneath the upturned stone. 

I recognize the darkness that surrounds
the absence above,
                    cold out for a stroll
before light, rats smashed in the alleyway, 

         walking atop the ice flat of blood
and water. I am still
                     so young and what plays out 

around me is tired.
                              A skeleton folds
                     over itself at the foot

of the mausoleum’s door after days
of beating stone. I keep a quartered 

orange wide in my mouth,
                              teeth penned on.
I don’t want desperation to bead
on the taps, 

another read-through of roles
                     at the round table,
         eyes awash in early hours. 

It gives dear death every last cent
she demands, nickel clink
                     in her pocket as if she walks 

         just beyond the basement wall.
the soil parting for her like curtains.


Subject in subject

At this age, let’s call a heart a spade,
the previous night’s clothes dry leaves. 

Drunkard sweeps the tiles with death’s broom:
dust, hair, garments, evidence of 

existence in piles next to my shoes.
There are large holes in the story, 

shark-proof cage with a panel missing.
I’m overtly host to something else’s meaning, 

fearing the bacteria alive inside my viscera
more than the worms that will blossom, 

burst forth from the bloat of body.
Saying no to the smell, okay to aging and no 

to waiting, I touch colder skin
to prove to myself that I still fill it, pat

the dog peeking through neighbor’s gate
to be sure the sidewalk doesn’t roll on its side. 

A morning routine scours clues,
scratches letters into little boxes 

that make up hosts of bigger boxes.
I darken
the ghosts of letters as the grid 

of unknowns spill outward into the known,
a rare opportunity to declare 

that these spaces we inhabit aren’t anything
but exactly what they’re supposed to be.


© The Acentos Review 2018