Two Poems by Maj Ragain

Vernor Lake

At sunset tonight
I hooked a big fish
off Boatman's Point.
He ran right at me
and then by the boat.
I couldn't reel fast enough
to keep the line taut.
He was as big as a second grade kid.
The son of a bitch turned me
around in the boat,
my arms extended straight up
like an Aztec priest
about to cut out a beating heart.
The rod bent double.
And gone.
I've been after this fish
for thirty years.
I know him.
He is the bitter
shiteating part of me
who longs to drown
where the stars can't reach.
If I ever get him in the boat,
I'll tear out his gills
and make him fly.

Brother Timothy in the Lot

The poetry is the only free act of my life.
Everthing else is tethered.
I am laced up like a boot.
But the meter reader can't read
my poems with his long yellow flashlight.
My poems are little bastard children
who have fled the institutions
and now camp in my eyebrows.
My poems love yellow lettuce
from the dumpster behind Sparkle Market.
I'm telling you the story of Lazarus
who was dead and something woke him up
and he got up on his elbows
and looked at the sun.
The poetry has nothing to do with the oil cartel
or pants with a 31 inch waist.
The poetry is not the faint, misted breath
on a mirror.
It is not the icy ring around the January moon.

I learned a lesson from a man
named Timothy, both of us half drunk
a July night, in Ciccone's Tavern parking lot.
He was twenty years old
and had rheumatoid arthritis so bad
he had to keep moving so his joints
wouldn't freeze and solder him to the spot.
He hopped from one foot to the other,
a barefoot man on ice.
Beer fed the yoyo between us.
He laughed about all of it.
We shook hands
and he just kept shaking all over.
When he wasn't shaking,
he shivered to keep moving.
Timothy turned round and winked at me.
'Just cause I'm shivering don't mean I'm cold.'
I know the poetry
is the shivering and not the cold.

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