Do Not Open, 2003. [Photo by Keith Johnson]

We are a peaceful nation.

Our planes are filled with strawberries
headed for Japan.

The continent is on the move,
shaking its hips, grinding the perreo.

California will crash into Alaska
in fifty million years.

This is a science like any other,
how we bend ourselves

to the line of action, making
in the angle of our commerce.

We are waiting for
the Arctic Ocean to open.

Our submarines travel quietly
beneath the ice.

Editors' Note

“Countrymen” appears in the chapbook A Guide to the Northwest Territory, published by Miel Books in September. The poem was first published in Bateau in 2009.

Josh Wallaert, “Countrymen,” Places Journal, October 2012. Accessed 20 Mar 2023. <>

Comments are closed. If you would like to share your thoughts about this article, or anything else on Places Journal, visit our Facebook page or send us a message on Twitter.