Three Poems

by Susan Meyers






Fishing Out of Water

Suppose wisdom came from a wood stork,
that bald-headed drifter
you see standing in the grass
down by the fish-cleaning station—
his posture, neck drawn in, an old argument
with the past, his dark bill
looking more like burden than tool.
But when he flies, you trace
the black tips of his wings, his body
a soft, white arc
you know as perfect translation.
You’ve lost all doubt.
Doesn’t it make sense for him
when he lands, after tucking his wings
but before easing from stillness,
to ignore you and consider instead
the green-bladed view, inch by inch.
To pause, one foot raised,
weighing the long, thick, inexplicable day.




Sitting in Applebee’s Parking Lot Somewhere between Art and Dying

My cousin’s heart attack was weeks ago
and still I think of dying, which he didn’t do,
thank his lucky stars, or God. An old man
shuffles with his little cart for balance
and mutters something I can’t hear, a curse?
I’ll shuffle too someday, or maybe die first.

I vacillate between these fates, a child
at play reciting eenie-meenie while
some bully makes the choice. A guywire casts
its pencil shadow on the strip of grass.
Call it horizontal art, that shadow.
Inside, the old man staring out the window

waves as if to turn the traffic light
from red to green, Monday’s highlight
in a gallery of come and go, and hurry—
exhibits neither he nor I will jury,
mere patrons of this high museum of cars.
Both alive, thanks to God, or lucky stars.




Saturday Night Pantoum

                             —with a line from Mark Strand

If a chicken answers the door, you’re at the wrong party.
Sneak through the crowd, and open the fridge.
Then stand there panting. Never too cold in August.
Isn’t that what your mother always said?

Sneak through the crowd, and open the fridge.
Chickens don’t care, won’t give a cluck.
Isn’t that what your mother always said?
Listen to women, those with the best recipes.

Chickens don’t care, won’t give a cluck
if the moon wears a halo and the party’s a drag.
Listen to women, those with the best recipes.
Easy enough to make friends with your host.

If the moon wears a halo and the party’s a drag,
now’s the time to admit your mistake.
Easy enough to make friends with your host
whenever you’re pushed against the wall.

Now’s the time to admit your mistake,
apologize, repeatedly, for the lime Bermudas.
Whenever you’re pushed against the wall,
recite Mark Strand or tell an old joke.

Apologize, repeatedly, for the lime Bermudas,
say you lost your shirt on the way to the river.
Recite Mark Strand or tell an old joke,
anything to keep your upper lip from sweating.

Say you lost your shirt on the way to the river.
Say you’re in love with someone you can’t name,
anything to keep your upper lip from sweating.
Turn a cartwheel, maybe two, so you won’t look foolish.

Say you’re in love with someone you can’t name.
Then stand there panting. Never too cold in August.
Turn a cartwheel, maybe two, so you won’t look foolish.
If a chicken answers the door, you’re at the wrong party.