Lynne Viti, a lecturer emerita at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, is the author of Dancing at Lake Montebello: Poems (Apprentice House Press), and two poetry chapbooks Baltimore Girls and The Glamorganshire Bible, and a short story collection, Going Too Fast, all from Finishing Line Press. She blogs at lynneviti.wordpress.com.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Lynne Viti and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Vodník Steps Out
Last week I was a frog with a long-stemmed pipe,
my hat green with algae and muck,
china pots at my feet, prisons for my acquisitions—
suicides, a few souls from unbaptized infants,
one drunkard who fell into my watery trap.
Take a long look at my work— don’t disturb
the top of that teapot—the soul will bubble up
to the water’s surface to freedom.
Who’d do my bidding then? Who’d fetch
my pretty waistcoat, my top hat,
who’d roust my water-nymph daughters
to help me drag swimmers to the river’s floor?
Today I’ll dress up like a gentleman,
conceal my fish scales, fishtail.
I’ll wear my best green frock coat,
comb out my watery locks,
stride into the town’s nicest pub. I’ll conceal
my webbed fingers in workman’s gloves,
down a glass or two of slivovice.
Tomorrow it’s back to stringing pretty ribbons,
setting hand mirrors in the pond,
to disorient the unwary, the boastful.
Fishermen will offer me the first of their catch.
Before they even finish their incantations
I’ll have my supper cooking in the pan.
Note: the legendary water sprite of Czech fairy tales is called “vodník”
Meditations at Newcomb Hollow
for Arthur Gava Medici, 1992-2018
That was the year we learned
the ocean no longer belonged to us.
For years we waded into its waters,
hoisted our children onto our shoulders.
Then the sea began to swarm with fat seals.
When the sharks came for the seals
the sea we set our daily calendars by
whose tides we arranged our beach days around
became a sea of death, of blood cutting through water,
a place for caution, for catastrophizing about
At the head of the dune a surfboard tombstone
is lodged into the sand, adorned with milagros—
rope bracelets, scraps of poetry, dirty flipflops,
Shred on, brother, someone has inscribed
in black marker on a piece of gray driftwood.
Black-clad surfers ply the waves with impunity,
emerge from the water.
Work awaits them, morning duties
though their real work is shredding the green water.
Seals rise up at regular intervals, unaware of danger.
Here is where the brother surfer
was sacrificed to the shark, drawn by the seals
but striking anything, to fulfill its carnivorous destiny.
Now the accoutrements of human progress arrive:
first aid kits, tourniquets, phone access to Fire/Rescue,
warnings on the Sharktivity app—
post-mortem measures (post-your death, gentle surfer),
new protocols to embrace.
We are so old to—only now—
be losing our innocence.
George Moore’s recent collections include Children’s Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015) and Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FutureCycle 2016). He has published poetry in The Atlantic, Poetry, Arc, North American Review, Stand, and Orion. Nominated for seven Pushcart Prizes, and a finalist for The National Poetry Series, he lives on the south shore of Nova Scotia.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by George Moore and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Standing at the curb the sound
of gunfire heard in the street
and men work their way up through the building
shooting the magazine’s staff as they go
determined to end the world
of their isolation
for the God of dark matter
for a familiar face in a cartoon
But now time separates the before
and after and Paris grows back into the Louvre
and sprouts again in the flower markets
along the Seine
that sounds like sane
but what is left of it in this world
The historical detective knows
the past as a misread map of the future
and the evidence of the days
piled up in an old lockup somewhere
where no one has the soft key
The people sit in cafes again
and talk a philosophy of extremes
of tunes of terror alerts and reprisals
among chocolates and creams
And even in this present tense
the ancient crimes
are crimes of belief