Freediving the North Star Academy Barrens

by Jared Beloff

a faded pastel wall

bleached with coral and blue 

waves breaking

impressions of ochre

stars, their chalky outlines wasting 

the seafloor.


a kelp forest hangs 

like streamers

from a party that has gone 

too long, fish darting through 

fronds that have no right to be here.


cracked paint calved,

scattered to the linoleum. in the detritus

an urchin’s spike, an octopus’ curled arm 

blotched and bound by mold, foaming 

through plaster tentacles, 


reach to understand

blend billowed skin, retract secrets

in the frigid dark like children probing

a formless wash, listening through broken shells.



Jared Beloff is a teacher and poet who lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two daughters. His debut poetry collection, Who Will Cradle Your Head, is forthcoming with ELJ Press in February 2023. He is the editor of the Marvel inspired poetry anthology, Marvelous Verses. You can find his work in Contrary Magazine, Barren Magazine, Bending Genres, The Shore and elsewhere. He is online at and as @Read_Instead on Twitter.