small textlarge text

Andre F. Peltier

Waiting for the Sploosh:
A Poem in Four Movements

Download MP3

I: From Scranton to St. Helens

Staring into the vacuum
of wishing well satori.
The penny drops, drops
but never hits bottom.
The penny carries
the unfulfilled dreams
of unfulfilled nations.
Through maize and gourds
and golden autumnal afternoons,
the penny drops
never to hit rock bottom.
With hearing aids and
Whisper 2000s
we squint our ears
to detect the faint clink
of copper on granite.
Never again will we
fold our hands,
bow our heads.
Never again will we
ask God to save the day.
“There is absolutely no
for looting. No justification
for violence.”1 Ah, but he
forgets the symptoms
and the simulacra.
Blue-collar son
of blue-collar Scranton,
The President is lost in the ashes
of the 7-Elevens, the ashes
of the Walmarts and Targets.
“The peace of the world
has been preserved,
not by statesmen,
but by capitalists.”2
How the mighty robber-barons,
the mighty men of steel
and rail and big-tech
and big-schemes,
how those mighty men
preserved our God-given
right to the land.
We listen for the penny
as we float down
the Columbia river.
We reached the Pacific
and the Corps of Discovery
listened for the ever-loving sploosh
as the copper entered
the salty wash.
The Corps of Discovery listened
and lost their way.
And the ashes of Mt. St. Helens
covered the world,
and the ashes of Mt. St. Helens
muffled any music that might
have bubbled over.
And Mt. St. Helens muffled
the silent song of those silent
falling pennies.
No sploosh in that briny,
briny deep.

II: Who Raised Those Totem Poles?

Staring into the vacuum
of St. Helens satori.
The osprey, the spotted sand-piper,
the barn-swallow,
they stare as they circle
that event horizon.
No light escapes the crater.
The sound of the falling penny
is trapped forever and for always.
Ash blew across the nation.
Cascade ash painted
the flurries of Michigan,
Ontario, Quebec
with a dusky sheen.
Pacific winds carried that plume
across the continent and into
our vivid elementary school
“Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!”3
Vancouver, Vancouver,
you dropped your coins
into the fountains
of Pacific Center,
into the cascades of that Great
Columbia River,
and you clasped your hands
in hopeful prayer,
but the coins you dropped
into Louwala-Clough
were dropped in vain.
When Pahto and Wy’east
paddled down
that Great Columbia River,
as they sang “Roll on Columbia,
roll on” and chased the sunset,
they crossed the Bridge of the Gods.
They devastated the land,
the villages, the people,
and Loowit turned to stone.
Her life-breath now exhales
from the depths
of Mt. St. Helens,
but no penny ever
touched her soul.
And in the shadows
of the Cascade Range,
the Cowlitz raised their Totem Poles
to raise their roof-beams.
Raise high those roof beams,
and raise high the spirits
of old Northwest.
And leaving Puget Sound,
we leave the ever-falling penny
to its ever-falling doom.
And sacred Puget Sound
muffled the silent song
of those silent falling pennies.
And leaving Puget Sound,
we roll on to Weskan,
Sharon Springs, Topeka,
and all points east.

III: When Kansas Wept and Blew

Staring into the vacuum
of root-cellar satori.
Auntie Em, Hunk, Zeke,
Hickory bed down deep
with onions, carrots, potatoes,
sprouting but ready for stew.
They seek shelter as those
Kansas winds blow
across the Kansas waste.
They crucified mankind
on a cross of dust bowl blues,
but never shall they crucify
mankind on a cross of gold.4
“And you were there,
and you were there,
and you were there,”
as we gazed, with hands clenched
around that dust bowl penny,
at the sinking sun obscured
by the hot sands of
the Louisiana Purchase.
When Napoleon wept
on St. Helena
with his four cents an acre,
he knew his four cents
would never sound
the hollow knell upon hitting
the bedrock.
He knew there would be no
good-luck splash.
And there would be no
good-luck splash
as he hurled his twenty-franc piece
towards the shadows of
Lot’s Wife,
he knew that the man
behind the curtain
would never send that Elban
fleet to free him again.
Marengo would never ride
through Flanders fields
to free him.
Trapped and forsaken,
Bonaparte called upon
his wingéd monkeys,
his melting sorrows
and sang his melting songs
to the wind.
On St. Helena, Dorothy Gale,
with silver standard slippers,
sang too.
She sang as the winds blew.
She sang as the storm grew.
And cold Holcomb, Kansas
muffled the silent song
of those silent falling pennies.
She sang of the bluebirds
and rainbows
as the penny fell
from the towers
of that glowing
emerald city.

IV: The Halcion Days of Hernando

Staring into the vacuum
of Tampa Bay satori.
Sunshine Pier with anglers,
tourists, sharks, stingrays.
Grandma would cut my hair
on her back patio.
Sweeping it into the
gentle Florida breeze,
she said the seagulls
collected tufts to
pad their nests.
They padded nests
with hair and pennies.
The white birds keeping
their young warm within
the dark fluff and copper coins.
Supposedly, it’s bad luck
to have your hair end up
in a nest,
but grandma never went
for superstition.
She stood on principle:
my utilitarian haircut helped
usher in the baby gulls
before they grew to beg
for scraps on those
white beaches of Tampa Bay.
They grew to soar above
The Sunshine Skyway,
to soar above the squall
that drove the Summit Venture
through the piers.
Cars, trucks, Greyhounds,
that second generation
Ford Courier, fell and sank.
All those pennies fell
and are still sinking today,
never reaching the floor
of the Gulf of Mexico.
Grandpa in the bed of
the pick-up, with stage make-up
and bandana, cutlass and hook:
those De Soto Days live on.
When my pirate hat
flew in the breeze
and my newly cut hair
was on display, I cried.
“Pirates don’t cry,” he told me.
“Pirates don’t cry over lost hats
or falling pennies.”
When those De Soto Days
muffled the silent song of
those silent falling pennies,
and all of those pennies of May
are still falling to this day.
And nothing copper can stay
when the Summit Venture
goes astray.


1 Wise, Alana. “No excuse for Looting: Biden, Trump Respond to Philadelphia Protests.” NPR. 28 October 2020. Link.

2 Disraeli, Benjamin. Qtd. in The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield vol. 4. 1855-1868. William Flavelle Moneypenny and George Earle Buckle, authors. Forgotten Books, 2018.

3 Johnson, David. Qtd. In “Vancouver, Vancouver, This is It.” Sally Ousley, author. Corvallis Gazette Times. 17 May 2020. Link.

4 Bryan, William Jennings. “The Cross of Gold Speech.” Delivered at The Democratic National Convention, Chicago, IL, 9 July 1896.

➥ Bio