Volume 62, 2017 Selected Poets and Poems
Charlene Langfur – Things that Grow in the Desert
David Sten Herrstrom – What Water Wants
Kelley Jean White – The Confused Annotation
Helen Gorenstein – A Proper Man
Steve Smith – Wolf Spider
Clifford Paul Fetters – Night Swim
Please see our Poets tab for home pages of poets, where available.
Things that Grow in the Desert by Charlene Langfur
I am one of them now. There is no controlling
it. Opening up the same as roses.
Heather covered with purple flowers
The old palms swaying like new. Me too.
Or trying too. A few brown fronds here and there,
part of the oasis. Living on. Shallow-rooted.
Deep-hearted, you know what I mean. And here,
how we all take to the heat. A love affair
with a certain kind of clarity. Wind against
the neck, a caress. A few fat clouds floating
on, the road runner’s digging in underneath,
making a life out of anything at all, the little
and the true. Birds that don’t know how to fly
living large. With feathers the color of the sea and
the morning sky. I grow here like the other life
does. Making it feel easy. Knowing it is not.
Opening up under the giant big blue sky
over the white sand, near the wild dry trees,
I dream all morning in sharp pine light,
Insects clicking their tiny castanets.
I dream the lake
Stretched like a luminous drumhead,
And I still don’t understand.
I am the man standing on the sky
In a boat, hearing the happy cries
Of his son from the shore.
The man becomes his father out there
Years ago hearing his own cries
From the same shore.
The water dreams a stand of woods.
Listening to a man describe his vision
I am dreaming the man.
Water beats time into pebbles.
Light just walks into water, not a ripple.
The man dreams that his body passes through
His eye. After days of pain
And discipline, he is a vast plain of water.
At last, a man appears in the world
Who understands the water.
She has one dog named Harry, another
named Potter. Her cat is Hermione, her
car is called Ron. (Weasley.) For her daughter
she got a tattoo on her right shoulder
to honor that actor, “he was famous,
starred in all the Hogwarts movies, (his name
was Alan Richman, or something), he played
that guy that turned into a dog, yeah, he’s
‘Serious Black’” (the tattoo reads), she shows
me the new ink. Should I tell them they’ve erred?
Should I tell them they’ve misspelled it? I know
it’s Sirius, the dog star. The actor’s
named Rickman. He wasn’t that character.
He played Severus Snape.
I know the sort of man I want:
gently caring, ironically witty,
and unfailingly polite.
I come across him in novels,
but not in my mundane days.
Last summer though,
a guard with a walrus mustache
and a towel around his waist
(for custom was to nude swim here)
stopped me as I crossed
from public to private beach,
but then added nicely,
a fishing rod gives trespassing rights.
I have a pole with a net I could bring next time.
Would that do?
No, ma’am, old Massachusetts law.
It has to be a rod for fishing.
Alas, wasn’t that exactly what I had been doing?
Fly-casting. As for scoring, caring and polite,
wouldn’t that do?
I find her coiled in the stillness
of the cellar corner again, quick as a blink,
with long hairy black legs probing
like spears ready to stab and clutch
reminding me of the giant movie spider,
“Tarantula’” of my 1950s childhood.
When I lift a box of books she scurries
away with startling speed
like a finely tuned engine
and wraps her huge forelegs
around the bottom of one of my chairs
as if she were holding onto a life raft.
Not trusting she wouldn’t bite me
when I sleep or am not looking
I trap her under an old paint can
careful not to hurt her because she is
so fragile and finely constructed,
so artfully camouflaged
like a dark threaded patch
of fabric come to life.
Then I toss her out the back door
onto the grass where she scrambles
and runs for cover
right back under the door frame.
And I leave her there because
I’m starting to like her.
One star above, a chip of ice in dark.
Shadows of palm leaves on the walls.
The breeze he feels only on his face
the rest of him submerged in tropical water.
Maybe the star breathes on him.
On his back, slow motion legs and hands
push the water away, it comes back.
Wave of limbs in waves like Tai Chi.
His ears are under, all sound is far away.
The water warm as him, carries his body,
a liquid trip to space. Yet he is wholly sensual,
his nakedness both lifting soul and centering sex,
he feels the star getting closer.