Fossil Record

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We scurried over fallen locust limbs, thorns jabbing
the water’s edge like shark teeth we used to look for.
The Potomac edged its slate gray to the ancient beach
where cliffs rise out of Miocene sands. Layers of silt
and clay etched with history: lithography in shells,
scribed bits of bone, teeth blanched, earth stained.

I’ve gone back to study at the base of those cliffs
as if a child unfolding blank pages of a great book
and reading the history I imagined there, memories
washing free with every storm.


John C. Mannone has poetry in Artemis Journal, Poetry South, Blue Fifth Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine, Peacock Journal, Gyroscope Review, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, Pirene’s Fountain, and others. He’s a Jean Ritchie Fellowship winner in Appalachian literature (2017) and served as the celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). He has three poetry collections, including Flux Lines (Celtic Cat Publishing, forthcoming in 2019). He’s been nominated for Pushcart and other awards. He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, and Liquid Imagination. He’s a retired professor of physics living between Knoxville and Chattanooga, TN.

Banner image by Bob Diller / Virginia State Parks / CC BY 2.0