Clouds hang low in the heat, heavy bellied animals.

Perspiring Boy Scouts plant small crisp flags squarely

beside every mailbox in Cedar Creek, vans slowly

trailing with fresh reserves. When they are done,

they shed their clothes—piles of khaki snake skins,

then jump into to the pool to splash and bob,

screaming Marco and Polo at their lung-tops.

I watch them from the adjacent baby pool, as

my daughter pours water from one measuring cup

to another. She frowns and pours a little water

on her stomach and toes, before reaching again

for a blue bucket to fill—precise in her rituals,

so much so it often pains her. My efforts

to help only vex her more. Nothing left but to

glance at my thighs underwater, which I do

casually, distractedly as if the white behemoths with

their wide groves of stretch mark were something

which roamed along the ocean floor in another age.

My mind runs then re-runs over a recent slight.

I conjure it up again, all the real and imagined

indignities, so lost in pride I don’t know how long

my daughter has been leaning against me now, pouring

water on my knees, the right then the left and right.



I have heard when angels finally arrive

the tongue turns shorn stone. The air is

struck dumb, and stripped trees are helpless

to do a thing but toss and maybe dance.


Some come here for a few days then leave

with bright shells fastened to the insides of

plastic pails. They drive tired burnt bodies

inland satisfied they have seen something of

Immensity. But some of us are wintering,

still pacing the coastline, walking far off

enough from you now wearing such a bulky

coat it doesn’t matter whether it is a man

or woman who carries sorrow in their hands

pushed deep in their pockets—it doesn’t matter—

one’s age or station, when there’s so much

old weather rattling round the head.


I am staying. I am staying.

I have not yet had a word.



The train in my heart gathers

speed for the mountains,

it takes one last pause between

shattered rock and mottled leaf.

The passengers inside sigh,

wanting to crush the ground—

to see what wine and word spring

up from the rich mulch-parchment.

I could tell them to take cheer.

But I know too well how light

like this can set one weeping,

turn one fool, make one sigh

for all the lovers whose limbs

still lie unknotted—caught

deep down in the dark grain

of unfathomable waters.



The populist had a dream the swimming pool

was filling up, more and more families arriving

in their mini-vans friends of friends getting out

with towels and goggles. The populist watched

Grannies with their skirted suits ply the shallow

end with Styrofoam rings, gently fanning the water.

The populist grimaced as babies with improper

swim diapers floated, un-innocent lilies in the arms

of their baseball hated gossiping mothers. When a little

girl dropped half her orange popsicle in the water,

a small colored iceberg trailing its dye, he screamed

The scream died in his throat before sound emerged.

The populist was not really a populist. He should

have known it. The way he polished his shoes. Cut his

grapefruit segments aft to fore and fore to aft.

The way he lamented (for days) that referencing

The Stones of Venice would have been so apropos,

bringing up an intersection that may have been

quite possibly very illuminating. When a boy

with a livid green something pulsating in and out

of his left nostril ran to do a cannonball into

the deep end, the populist woke up sweating

then looked around his empty room,

grateful and ashamed. Then he showered.

Instead of driving, he took the number eight

bus to work, planning to brush against

an especially brutish looking elbow for penance.



Jenn Blair has been published in Copper Nickel, Kestrel, the Tulane Review, New South Review, Rattle, Blood Orange Review, and Santa Fe Review among others.

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