The Fourth River

Tributaries: “Lake Michigan Boys”

By on August 30, 2017

 By Allen Weber


Winter never leaves suddenly.
Creeping temperatures coax

groans from the thickest ice,
and sometimes a cocksure boy

wanders too far from shore—
makes an island of himself.

Incensed by indecision,
The rest wish it were us

drifting still further west
on that breakaway floe.

But coastal girls will wriggle free
from winter coats, then summer frocks,

to gambol barely out of reach
of the cold and muttering surf.

Once, we were Spartan—AM
radio and cut-off jeans.

Prone, with elbows and loins
pressed into the warming sand,

we’d confront each pale breast,
speak up or ache like a tooth.


Allen lives in Hampton, Virginia with his wife and their three sons. The winner of the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Memorial Prize, his poems have twice appeared in A Prairie Home Companion’s First Person Series, as well as in numerous journals and anthologies—most recently in Pentimento Magazine and Changing Harm to Harmony: bullies and bystanders project.