Post Road Magazine #23

Charter

Adam Vines

Hundred miles out, after a night of soaking squid for swords—
no swords—everyone's packed in the berth like wasps in a comb
except me on the stern and the mate in the wheelhouse.

The sun swells on the horizon's back. The sea coughs up
bonito; flying fish launch and crash like cheap balsa gliders.
Skiing over wakes, doll-eyed speed trollers skeet fantails,

stippling contrails of bubbles. Below—black contracting
in a sweep of blue—something's balling up ballyhoo.
The mate's "starboard," the throttle pulled back hard,

and the 130's drag plate mewls its aubade, and the marlin responds
by tail-walking, shadow-jousting, then sounds, and with
every crank she comes to me too easy—a surge, a pluck of her,

then she's gone, till I reel in what she gave up, hold her hooked eye
in my palm: a bocce ball, a boiled swan egg, if anyone could be so cruel,
the dark gulf between us as wide as her pupil refusing to shrink in the light.


Floundering

Adam Vines

1.
When the tides were right
outside of Pass Christian, I would see them
heron-stalking the shallows, gigs held high

in one hand, a lantern in the other.
They were tracking beds, depressions where flounders
had ambushed a mullet or mud minnow

and had settled back down a couple yards away,
leaving nothing behind but cloudy water
and the imprints of their bodies.

2.
They bury their bodies into the dirty bottom,
waiting for prey, accepting
the coarse sand and silt

like monks accepted hair shirts,
waited for some sign of luminous grace
to hover above them

and take their hungers away.
They only expose the black pearls
of their cattywampus eyes,

one nested between the gill plate
and jagged teeth, the other lurking
at the edge of their mottled, spade-shaped head

since the eye seeped through the body
to merge with the other
when they were just fry,

condemning them to vision always fixed
upward and the terrible weight of the world.
Perhaps they don't scurry

when the giggers find them because they've conceded
the shallow graves of their bodies while in awe
of the light spreading above them,

and, perhaps, in those barbed seconds,
they're bucking in the ecstasy of what
is not their flesh rising into the impaled air.


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