Poem of the Week

Four Seasons And The Life Of Five
* this poem was to be included in indiana the island but was taken out in the final cut. so now, a year and some months later, i'm sharing it with you. written in 1998. *

They swam in the smooth lake
behind our summer cottage.
They had crystal laughs and sun smiles that
I knew were meant for me.
A pair of eyes deeper than fishes
and stronger than gems
controlled my childhood.
Hair of liquid fire and mother of pearl hands,
they'd stare from the shallows.
When I caught green turtles,
they'd catch me.

Each mermaid had a name-
Aquamarine, Toldandra, Minnapha,
Pearl, and Sepharsha.
And I had a name.
Pisces Boy, Lake-lover they'd call me.

When the season turned
to winterizing the cottage,
my grandmother handed me
bags of unused bread
to give to the lazy ducks
that stubbornly refused to leave,
as if they believed
autumn was a lie.
I believed it to be.
Perhaps we were their signal to go south
like the other smart birds.

Every fall, when leaves covered the lake like an oil slick,
I would see the mermaids float to the top,
bloated and overripe, floating face down,
backs arched like a dancer, their hair cascading
in the reds and browns
of dead leaves.
And we would leave.
"Let the lake have them," I'd whisper.
As we pulled away in the car, I'd crawl to the back window.
As the rain inevitably came,
I squinted to see if they'd magically reappear,
like car keys or dollar bills.

In spring when turtles' muddy eyes reopened
and I had gained an inch or two,
hair perhaps a shade darker,
I'd put on my dirty shoes
and look for those innocent, still-sleepy hatchlings,
and scoop them up in my palm.
And as they did every year,
my ladies of water returned, somehow alive
and full of bliss.
I'd count them-
all five
laughing on the ripples,
splashing spring into the water,
and the water
onto my shoes-
on my pants' legs,
Saying, "Good morning Pisces Boy, Lake-lover, Good Morning!"

I would wander back to the cottage with a bucket of turtles
dreaming of a green fin-tail-
a nautical leg-
and a water breathing lung
to find my patient grandmother
who'd ask as she peered
towards my legs and feet,
"You've been out with the mermaids again, have you?"
And I'd reply,
"Yes, I have."

- Sunday, January 16, 2005

Small Desire
* this is one of the few poems i have written involving politics- little, mind you, but it's there. i wrote it in the spring of 2004 on a lovely afternoon drinking beer. *

It is how it is.
From cakes to universities,
from the longbow to the precipice,
it is how it is.

Cold feet.
From the magpie it comes-
he boasts for food,
he wants to be a designer,
a father,
a good flier.
He guffaws and sits on a branch.

Quite lazy.
It is the shoemaker's burden.
Hammering the sole.
Each nail a wish.
The Caribbean, Hawaii, The Seychelles.
It is full of dust and dimes.
He opens every morning at six.

A couch string.
From the TV it lulls.
A consumer of fraud,
of fat and tired skin,
you await a raise with on eyebrow up.
You want to change everyone around you but
you slack-jawed yourself to sleep.

The White House.
The planet's challenge,
the big, unfamiliar backyard.
The rattling of cages,
a plain, brown bag with
an apple, a cheese sandwich and
a hydrogen bomb.
And it sits there all grumpy!

It is how it is.
I try to jettison the pages away,
my little writings,
the word-boys and girls

all dressed for trimmed paper,
and I say it like this,
"Let them change, for writing does nothing."
It is how it is.

- Monday, January 10, 2005

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