Ellis Island & Autumn


August ends like a zipper

on my suitcase, locked with an ornate

key inscribed with the initials

of the woman whose curved figure

shines like Jupiter in twilight.

Inside the suitcase, stars.


Stars stored in sippy cups

milk for the baby, for the son

of the moon

woman, some goddess

of harvest, of autumnal swing-

sets, with puddles of wet

leaves on their leather seats &

early darkness oils their chains.


The coffee pools in my mug, un-

finished like the season will never be;

winter is certain

as the tide, & it rises

to my lips, warm, but pulls



I stand here at the shore-

line, heels in the water,

& industry rises, breaking

the innocent horizon. I wish

for gears as organs.


An immigrant in steamboat,

boy in transition, I

listen to the radio in the bowels

of the ship’s hold, sick

as the crescent’s pocked skin.


The captain announces the sky.

It is clear: the woman

has let go of her baby. The stars

are brighter, but silent.

The boy doesn’t coo in the night.

Ben Read lives in Spokane, Washington, where he is a senior at Lewis and Clark High School. His work has been recognized by RiverLit, Gigantic Sequins, and The Adroit Journal, and he was named a 2015 Foyle Young Poet of the Year by the Poetry Society of the United Kingdom. He recently co-founded Ponderosa Literary Journal at his high school. His favorite muse is the river.