Carolyn Oliver | Night Ocean

Night Ocean. Poems by Carolyn Oliver. Number 17 in our Rane Arroyo Series

Publication:  November 28, 2022 [100 copies]
25 pages
ISBN 978-1-949333-96-1
$ 12.00

Carolyn Oliver is the author of Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble (University of Utah Press, 2022), selected by Matthew Olzmann for the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry, and The Alcestis Machine, forthcoming in 2024 from Acre Books. Her previously published chapbooks are Mirror Factory (Bone & Ink Press, 2022, honorable mention for the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize) and Dearling (dancing girl press, 2022). Carolyn’s poems appear in The Massachusetts Review, Copper Nickel, Smartish Pace, Cincinnati Review, Shenandoah, Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, Plume, and in numerous other journals. Her honors include the E. E. Cummings Prize from the NEPC, the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Frank O’Hara Prize from The Worcester Review. Born in Buffalo and raised in Northeast Ohio, Carolyn now lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her website is

Foreign Affairs

Back in the city after my lover’s funeral
I met with a man who had treated me,

during our months together, like a chore.
He had just moved to the city to write poems,

which he’d convinced me I shouldn’t bother doing
because nothing about my life was interesting.

He was sorry for my loss, he said.
He handed me a mug I’d left at his place,

a serious gray mug sent by a magazine
I used to pretend I enjoyed reading.

He wanted my gratitude for bringing this mug
across four states, my gratitude for remembering

it was once mine. Clean, empty, it reminded me
that for a long time all I could manage

was to get high and fake orgasms and try
not to die, which I am still learning how to do.

[ Our thanks to Electric Literature’s The Commuter for first publishing this poem ]