by HEATHER TINNARO
Twelve Inches Long, At Most…
I found a small dead shark
Tangled in beach wrack this morning.
His remaining eye looked
I wanted to prize open
His tiny mouth
To see his tinier teeth
And discover the shape
Of a shark’s tongue.
Something in his lifeless eye, though,
Looking so disappointed in death,
As though it was not at all
What he expected,
Not having expected it
Love Song to a 1976 Bicentennial Huffy Stingray
The day we met I hadn’t yet tasted blood
On those sweet chrome handlebars.
The morning I got my first bike
There I am in the photograph in my nightgown
With a red-hot-damn, brand-spankin’ new
1976 Bicentennial Banana Seat Bicycle
And a birthday cake in the background.
All I could see was glint and gleam
Scintillating red white and blue
Visions of myself hauling at hellish speed
Sparkling white cellophane streamers streaking
Straight out behind me
Up and down the hexblock sidewalk forever.
Immortalized in celluloid, only
The smells of new vinyl and clean grease
But mingle in memory with candle wax and cake
Striped athletic socks and arctic wall-banger conditioned
Air-so-cold it made you want to die in July
Just to stay inside.
Never again, I vowed, would I
Voluntarily darken that delicious dim doorway
I would live on two wheels
Red white and blue bumping over broken sidewalks
From can’t see to can’t see
Shirtless and wild, neighborhood bicycle Boudicea
Coming in only when Momma threatened personal ruin.
Pre-installed playing cards clattered white
In the shining spokes as I steered
For the dark stifling porch and the Stygian street
Eager to crow the neighbor boys awake
With my hot-damn brand new Huffy machine.
I still always forget
Somewhere between the living room and my dreams
I will have to learn
Bus Stop Benediction
The way you hold your body
Like your skin was a sack
Knit loose to hold your
Out at the elbows, ridges
Worn smooth over your sunken cheeks
Balancing blue eyes never
Your hands and head nod in unison in
Silent supplication, begging blessings
For every car that passes you
Your splintered pew
Your bus stop cathedral.