Chad Heltzel Poems






In the field through which the observer walks—

the black boot of one standing as if to measure

the opening of the other’s mouth, having come up for air

to breathe forever and die that way, these giants wash ashore

and waste to bone on the beach, a smooth path

worn into sand by their fins, the surf occasionally rolling

to rinse them relieves the heat and pain

of their organs crushing under their bodies’ weight—

perhaps all of this is a question

of the magnetic field— there must be

an invisible eddy projected from the Earth’s core

through which all things drift, and from that current

comes a sudden flow of tremors pulling the compass apart,

conducting the field of whales toward coastline

gently enough to move them along salt’s buoyancy

and yet with such force to compel

their immensity out of the ocean—the act of flowing become flux,

as change in the nature of breath for example—

such that oxygen inside the body becomes new

through an act of intimacy—a molecule of air propelled

from pockets in the lungs, the stream charging

from neuronal pathways, rushing along synapses

like electricity passing through coils in waves

of sparking light, like waves of water produced

by the submarine drifting of plates—the Earth’s interior heating

then funneling upward through mountains created by colliding masses—

so hot even iron, able to change properties in the path of the field,

loses its power—so high the waves reach fifty feet

and plow into the seaside, a wall of water inundating

runners in the crush of the ferocious tide,

drowning them at sea and among the timber of their homes—

and so many miles away, the whales drift up

on the opposite shore of a continent, lying on their sides,

trying to right themselves at my feet.







Something driven between:  a beak.


A spring of teal and a troubling of goldfish.


Hair is feather, is scales.  Your knuckles pressing the dough flat. 


Rain scours pollen from the ground.  River of salt.


Sound of bells tolling:  exaltation of larks.


Yeast in the water.  Waves rise. 


A siege of cranes.  A mutation of thrushes.


Bread made with honey—drops of it in the center.


Straw floating in the rain—perhaps a hollow bone.


Yellow bread.  A grist of bees.


A strand of your hair in my fingers.  Nothing left but the dust.


A wedge of flying swans.  Descent of woodpeckers.


A drop of honey, a knife, an empty plate on the counter.







Chad Heltzel is a Ph.D. student in the creative writing program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  His poems have also appeared in In Other Words, Faultline, and Hamilton Stone Review.  Chad is a co-editor of the online journal Little Red Leaves and poetry editor of Packingtown Review.  He currently lives in Chicago.



Archived at





Copyright respective authors and Konundrum Engine