posted May 12, 2009

I was famous among my peers,
prominent in Lorenzo’s drunken prophesies,
surveilled by the neighborhood’s black squirrels
who clung like tumors to their maple trunks. I was ignored
in delicate fashion by Katherine the Great
who twirled by in summer dress,
pulling up her skirt to check a fraying seam,
her suitors swirling around
like dandelion seeds. At night
when her eyes grew into moons,
I tried to find the men in them. Given no theme,
I climbed up with sleeping pigeons,
a sextant for vanishing stars.
I emptied many a bottle with Lorenzo
and his clan of worms, but unlike them,
I was immune to light, and walked all morning
by the river, watching leaves fall in and rush away. Once,
on the opposite bank a willow lay its hair across the water
like a bright bridge. Wobbly, terrified of drowning,
I groped my way across the painted rapids.
I sat under the tree, looked back
across the river, and watched a couple of deer
sneak down to the water for a drink.

Mark Neely's poems have appeared in Boulevard, Indiana Review, North American Review, Meridian, and Salt Hill. He is the editor of The Broken Plate, and teaches at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where he lives with his wife, writer Jill Christman, and their two children. These two poems are part of a sequence he is working on, called Fishing With Lorenzo.

Neely’s poem “Lorenzo After Driving Drunk” also appears in this issue.