Poems of the Week

Three poems, three poets.


In which no one drowns

A lion-tamer, a cosmonaut, a banker, and a spy
get on a sailboat and declare themselves a sovereign nation.

The cosmonaut wants to be dictator for life.
The banker insists on a constitutional convention.
The lion-tamer eats all the jellybeans.

Draft two: trespassers will be shot.

The spy’s loyalties remain ambiguous.
She and the lion-tamer drink all the time and when they can’t
drink anymore they pour wine into the sea.

The lion-tamer writes a love letter to every untamed lion.
in the boat’s wake, there is a line of little bottles, leaving.

Draft five: if the banker makes phonebook vindaloo one more
time, he has to relinquish his paper crown.

The spy writes letters to someone called Haberdasher
and someone called Coyote.

The others wonder if she’s trading their secrets away. But she’s
only homesick for snowstorms, and all of her letters are blank.

A Hungarian shows up on a rowboat. He tells them his brain
is open. They give him the last piece of redemption cake.

Draft the last: we say we are more indebted
to the widow than the good doctor.

The Perseids fall on their heads.

And the lions walk into the ocean at last. They lion paddle out
to the sailboat and surround it: a net of lions, treading water,
growling lowly.


Self-Portrait as a Pack of Hounds

We move as one, a sea of eyes, yellow,
Unnatural, our ears dangling down, our paws
slipping on the dried leaves. We’re made to want you.
Your face in a snarl, your red coat, your black-shod
feet tucked up to clear a ditch.
Why did you leave us here. We don’t know where this is.
We slobber and peal down the trail. Our noses searching
for your pulse. Nuzzle, growl, we dig
and fight and dig, crashing through the brambles.
Your scent is a fever. Some fluff from your tail,
red-tipped gray. Our love a frenzy.
What will we do when we have you.


The Grizzly

In custom glass implying appetite, the grizzly in the restaurant is al-
most eight feet tall on hind legs hugging nothing. This is not an inte-
rior bear. It is perfect in its dexterity; both frozen and nightmare.

Opening its transparent cave after shift, I try to make my mind the
exact opposite of winter. I climb into the bear’s outstretched arms un-
derneath the teeth and I say, “You’re the baby.”

The restaurant is clean, and no one else is here. The midnight sun taps
absently against the windows. “Shhh,” the bear says. “I’m about to be

*all from Pleiades, Vol. 33.1 Winter 2013, Eds. Wayne Miller, Phong Nguyen

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