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spacer.gif   Cynthia Gallaher
Posted by : cj on Friday, December 03, 2004 - 09:08 AM
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Poetry:  Click On The Author's Name Woman at the Water Park
Merrillville, Indiana

I learned the names, ages of her children,
and her pipefitter husband's special handle,
"Tank."

I learned details of her backporch bar
and its demolition,
she and Tank both quit drinking together
two years ago.

The turning point in their relationship:
Winning a trip for two to the Turks and Caicos
through 103.5 fm, The Beat.

It served as a perfect honeymoon––
the couple were married poolside
after 10 years of common law,
the hotel included a swim-up bar,
a wet celebration
with Virgin Margaritas and Virgin Pina Coladas,
and later, a round bed, plenty of birth control,
each already with their own kids and each others.

She lay languid at the water park now,
bronzed on the lounge chair,
I reflect on her, she's pretty;
with firm legs, long sandy hair,
except for a small pot belly from three kids,
years of beer,
except when she leaps up again
to open a wide dry mouth,
spouting double negatives and light,
but good-natured curses;
an unlit cigarette dangles there.

She's from Hegewich, they now live in Hobart,
a step up.
"But Tank here wants to move even farther away,"
she said, placing her hand lovingly on his knee.
"What the hell, he wants to keep me safe."

Yet during this far-flung reprieve
in Deep River Water Park,
they're still up to their necks in minor terrors.
I tell her some black teens stole their inner tubes
while they were off to the pizza cabana.

I know much about her already,
yet she's forgotten we weren't introduced,
but sometimes a woman's story is
more vital than her name.

Her son Eddie, 14,
a towel wrapped around his hips,
waves on route to another water slide,
with her daughter Tammy, 12.
The result of a previous marriage
of eight years to an abuser,
she whispers confidentially.
"I never said anything," she said.
"I thought, 'He'll change.'
Then I met Tank."

Tank peers over his sunglasses,
grunts as he sets aside a tall ice tea,
extends a meaty hand,
then beams a wide boyish grin.


Dolphins Among Tuna

It's like digging through your purse
and tossing out dollars to find pennies,
how they draw purse-seine nets
to fishing boats,
heave-ho breathless dolphins
to sharks by thousands,
or let them slip/through the grinder
along with tuna.

Cetacean magnificence,
along with other highly-evolved mysteries,
don't generate money
for the fishing industry;
curved, firm, echo-locating bodies
are a necessary nuisance,
as not-so-bright tuna follow beneath to new feeding grounds
taking more than
its team of potential sashimi to ever find,
while boats follow doggedly above,
dolphin leading by the nose
to new payloads of yellowfin.

Reluctant guides of a double hunt,
spotted dolphin can't shake their shadows
closing in with silvery menace,
with macabre macrame
of transparent motive,
they slice through grammar and syntax
as easily as their lithe fins cut waves,
their social smiles
ever permanent, sincere;
they don't discriminate
and save the overboard sailor,
pushing her to the surface.

Caught between the devil and demand for chunk light,
dolphins are down for the microfilament count,
drowned by intellect before profit,
and perhaps, if we bite
into the right lettuce-ruffled sandwich,
we might finally wise up,
as some of our best thinkers
remain conveniently packed
in spring water.



Coyote

You think coyote is a trickster for his own ends, but that's only part of his trick, act, illusion. He runs ahead of the others; alone, wildly––but not to get there for himself. By the time everyone else shows up, they find the gate open, the gatekeeper tied up, and Coyote motioning to enter quickly. Coyote's so bad, he's good. Just when you think you know him, he does a flip and fur flies.

Everyone says they want to change the world, but what they want is the world already changed. The world often puzzles Coyote because Coyote is the master of change. He is change incarnate. And when his change, his tricks, make people change––to love him––he considers himself a success. The fruits of his tricks become seductive jewels, icons he collects in his Coyote cave.

Once, Coyote's baby woke to dirty exhaust fumes traveling through the window every morning. Coyote went down to the parking lot, threw sugar cubes into the offending car's gas tank, and the next day, Coyote's baby slept late, dreaming of rocking in a cradle from a tall spruce in a windy forest.

Another time, mid-winter, Coyote's family was cold, as were all the animal families in the building. Regardless, Coyote helped the miserly, lazy landlady next door pour water into the steam heat boiler. "She gave me this gallon jug to fill the reservoir," he said. "But to make up for all her miserliness, I'll pour in three gallons instead." The furnace then broke down completely, with water all over the floor. "We are colder than ever, Coyote. What kind of trick is that?" asked Coyote's wife. "The trick is still working. Soon you will feel very warm," he said. The next day, a new furnace was installed, and all the animals were warm that winter and every winter after that, even though Coyote and his family soon moved away.

Call it sabotage. Coyote calls it throwing out the trash. "No woman wants to marry a garbage man," is what Coyote claims all women think. "But suppose he doesn't come around a couple of weeks to collect her throwaways. She'll be pining for him like a she wolf in heat," he says. Coyote narrows his twinkling eyes. "Everybody puts me down to my face, but behind closed doors, you'd be surprised what's whispered in my ear," says Coyote.


 
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