Joshua Gottlieb-Miller


We wanted to see the animals
transformed where the surface
deepens. Naked, we wade

towards jellyfish ink black
phosphorescence in the night
of the ocean spilling.

We swim over dead fish
devoured by smaller organisms,
microbes and bacteria

we cannot see, so far beneath
the surface, layering.
We don’t know what kind

of darkness surrounds us.
We want to see darker
into the darkness we are

deepening. We try
to keep swimming.
Each of us

also a tiny darkness.
Our eyes closed
as we dive deeper

within the midnight zone.
Almost imperceptible,
we think, how through death

it continues to survive.
A tendril wraps
around a leg. A wisp winds

around my finger.
One of us looks away,
to laugh. The rain touches

the ocean so lightly,
the lightning,
quiet as a scalpel.


Joshua Gottlieb-Miller holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston, where he was a poetry editor for Gulf Coast. Most recently he was the winner of the 2012 Indiana Review Poetry Prize. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Birmingham Poetry Review, Linebreak and elsewhere.
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    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí