Swim Poems by Steve Mentz


These poems explore ocean swimming as ecological meditation for the Anthropocene.

We swim into the flooding of our world, knowing we cannot stop it changing.

The keywords are feeling and form. 

The goal is unlearning dominion. 

The abrasive element is salt. 

The color is blue. 

Anthropocene Swimming 

Every day, like prayer or meditation,

I follow high tide into buoyancy

Where only form patterns my exertion

And only feeling blazes my life in sea.

To see, to see! says the Polish master

In a language not his own. With violence

And despair he meets me on shore astern

Before I disembark the boat from whence

He stares down, sailor to swimmer, blind

To joy’s immersion intoxication

The wet that sets me afire slips my mind — 

Swimming hits skin in time of dictation.

Not words but world’s wet on body I crave

To cross with slow arms from dawn to the grave.