Today's poem is by John Pursley III

Hammerhead on the Atlantic

On the Ft. Lauderdale docks, there are barrels
      Set along the moorings—fish crates, & coolers

Of snappers, mahi-mahi, barracuda & blue-fin,
      Marlins—suspended from ready-made mounts,

Showcasing each catch—white fish & grouper,
      Red fish & snook, a jewfish & flounder, cobias

And jacks—a triggerfish, rudderfish, lookdown
      And drum—a canvas of pure color, stippled in

The long lines of waterfront, & so many boats,
      Bumping against the pilings. Buckets of mullet,

Porgy & scad, mojarras, tarpon, trout & wahoo,
      Silver king, kingfish, pigfish, ladyfish & fantails,

Ballyhoo & blue runner, pompano, scamp—all
      Sprawled out in a little smorgasbord of heaven,

All a 13-year-old's eyes can eat—& for nothing
      More than the abashment of parents, & sisters,

Asking too many questions—offering position,
      Rank & stature to our tourist-ness—I feel stupid

And contagious. Might as well hold up our signs,
      Might as well annunciate mid-west-ern, then turn

And spit into the ocean. But in the high courts
      Of fishermen, of fisheries, & the great Atlantic,

Our case is not so simple—& most of the fish
      Are big enough to break through bones—snap

Men like cheese straws—& if the hammerhead,
      Hanging from the weigh-scale, offers anything,

It is only to say, that you better watch your ass,
      Because the next-life is only water—& current

Implies direction, so I'll lay down my pitchfork,
      And step down off this tractor—let the hay fly,

The old engine knock to still. Besides, my sister
      Is kicking pennies, dimes, anything that glitters

And might draw a tourist's attention, stuccoed
      Along the docks—the afternoon charters, out-

Riggings, & sails, waiting for reservations, men
      With money—& the sky is a blaze of morning,

And the brine, that is the air—says we are alive,
      And we are alive. Let the water say the blessing.

Copyright © 2006 John Pursley III All rights reserved
from Passages North
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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