Tom Sleigh

(Texas / United States)

Stranding - Poem by Tom Sleigh

What came wafting
down the ditch
by the marsh grass waving
opened a hole
in the day through which,

like a puff of breath,
a ghost fountained up
rising in soft slo-mo,
lost, desolate, no place
left to go.

Dear bloody
Beirut and its internet cafes
were still smoking
from last night's
'little bombing.'

Such threads, tattered sleeves
blown all over the street
from Emporio Armani.
Husband and wife shot
dead at the airport checkpoint.

Where else would this lead?
The investiture
of grieving takes all day
to sweep up in the tidal spillage
of plate glass.

What ish my nation,
asked Captain MacMorris
between battles.
But the ditch knows
just who we are—

and I see its only water
on a stealth raid
of the glimmer
hidden in the reeds.
And when I come close,

little scavenger flashings
and great claws held out rigidly
scuttle back into mud holes
drilling the bank.
Bending down to look,

I could smell the corruption's
gathering, sweetish odor,
its sonar gone haywire
driving it to shore.
What choices are you given,

what makes you want to swim
out of your own element?
The demure little ear-holes
and intelligent clear eyes,
the fate from birth sealed

inside its smile,
spent flukes and tail
being gnawed to bone.
The curt unrevealing stare
mirroring back my own.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, July 14, 2014

Poem Edited: Monday, July 14, 2014

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