Peter Vertacnik

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Peter Vertacnik

Odd Elegy

You died on a day
gray and stippled
as an armadillo’s shell.

Pines and firs
were drained of color,
the sky a murky brine.

Swaddled shoppers
tottered on the ice
in the parking lot of a mall,

averting their eyes
to escape the smart
of the wind, spines knuckled over

by cold. The only
green winked from wallets
or the salt-filmed sides of cars.

Peter Vertacnik reads “Odd Elegy”


Peter Vertacnik’s first collection of poetry, The Nature of Things Fragile, won the 2023 New Criterion Poetry Prize and will be published in February 2024 by Criterion Books. He currently lives and works in Jacksonville, Florida.