Atsuro Riley: “Heard-Hoard”

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Author, Atsuro Riley Photo of Sven Wiederholt.

Atsuro Riley says he wrote “Heard-Hoard” with a kind of pacing he could feel in his body. Eleven years after his widely acclaimed poetry debut, readers are blessed his new book has arrived. Riley says that this time around he wanted to weigh the words more carefully, and use words with more weight. He speaks of narrative overlaps that allow a universe of ambiguities, multiplicity. The poem “Sunder” is read and discussed.

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Excerpt from Heard-Hoard by Atsuro Riley.


—But roughly but adequately it can shelter

In which she whomped
and tamped the earth to make a floor.

Beat a rhythm-rain
of brunts with oar and haft.

Gagged raw wallboards
( gaps and cracks ) with chiggermoss with oyster-sacks.

Would some nights leak
a howl.

Rough-rigged a roof
( some type of sail? ) from linoleum-scrimp and plastic.

Hacked a ( splintery ) hole
but hung no door.

Through which I’m put
more nights than not—Could I be the flickering in her structure.

Would some nights leak
a howl ( a count ) a whistling-through.

I’m coiled inside
this shape she wracked and made.

Excerpted from Heard-Hoard © 2021 Atsuro Riley. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved.