Ariel Francisco


Moon jellyfish amass

on the shores at summer's

end like memories.


Too fragile for this world,

they die simply from

the ocean’s constant turmoil,


rolling them over and over.

Violet markings cover their bodies

like bright hieroglyphics,


a language no one can read,

perhaps explaining why

their home betrays them.


Or perhaps they’re transcriptions

of their final thoughts.

The bay coughs them up


like phlegm, sticking to the sand

before slowly vanishing

from the shore and up into


the nothingness of the sky

dimming gray with clouds.

Nothing eats a dead jellyfish


except the heat of August.

Poised to return to Earth,

reincarnated, remembered—


rain is their afterlife,

falling back home

to the ocean’s swell


some mourning the beach

of their gravesite,

some falling on my head.


Ariel Francisco is a first generation American poet of Dominican and Guatemalan descent. He is currently completing his MFA at Florida International University where he is the editor-in-chief of Gulf Stream Literary Magazine and also the winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Tupelo Quarterly, Washington Square, and elsewhere, and his chapbook “Before Snowfall, After Rain” is forthcoming from Glass Poetry Press. He lives in Miami, FL.