Two Poems by Alx Johns

Bring on the Manatee

Sure, I've wondered what they taste like,
I mean, look at 'em:  A floating tenderloin.
Made to be eaten,
sorry, plump, all torso, bobbing like a motorboat target,
has no place in the modern age.
If I were in some country where they're a delicacy,
and I would be considered rude for not partaking,
I'd dig in, man.

The thing is, someone has to slaughter it,
drag its mopey ass
out of that clear, lush lagoon where it peacefully spends its days,
culls its calf (manatee veal).
Its eyes are little belly buttons,
you'd have to make contact with
and find the will somehow, the good reason
to make it meat.

Virtual Prayer Formula

Call up some slow strings on your media player,
perhaps Arvo Part's “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten”
Go to Google.
Close your eyes and
listen for half a minute or so.
Open them,
then enter any unfamous name

into Google images.
Try “Bradley Simmons” or “Jennifer Watson”
Now, stare at the faces there.
Give each one a few seconds with the music.
Some are alive, some are dead.
See if you don't begin to feel
some kind of compassion
for an absolute stranger, a mere face
but a fellow struggler, familiar
with failure, loss, loneliness
confusion and love.

Did you do it?
What are you, crazy?

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