W. Luther Jett

Poem in Which I Dream of Ice; Hippo River: W. Luther Jett

Poem in Which I Dream of Ice

There are rooms of people,
and more rooms, and more people,
and we wait
for something to start — dinner,
a show, a sermon, a speech.
No-one is really sure, but everyone
is certain that soon, soon
it will begin.

I have a plate
full of food, or I stand
in line to fill my plate, or I
look for a seat
at a crowded table, where
a woman with a gracile face
pauses mid-word, her voice
choked, tears
in the corners of her eyes.
Her hands are soft, soft
and warm.

I read aloud
a poem, perhaps it is this poem,
and people in the audience
murmur, shift in their seats, so I am
distracted and start to parse
my own poem, question
the choice of words mid-word.

Outside,
sleet covers the pavement,
trucks and buses slide,
a thin shell of ice forms
over everything. No-one
will be going anywhere soon,
soon, but the woman’s
hands are still — still
warm.

 

Hippo River

Acacia and aloe trees
punctuate the winter-yellow veldt.

In the garden of night
great slow beasts
lumber up from the river
to feed on thorns. We hear
the dull boom of their vast
many-chambered hearts
in the thick, velvet dark.

In morning, we find
their scat, steaming piles
under the lodge-decks,
though the beasts themselves
have vanished among the reeds,
as a cacophony of red-winged
starlings heralds the sun
ascending over dry hills.

The most dangerous animals
are not those of tooth and claw,
whose claims are clearly marked.
You may imagine yourself
innocuous, but the hippo
does not see you that way —
her fantasies are sharper
and you bear a deadly scent.

W. Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals as well as several anthologies. He is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father, (Finishing Line Press, 2015), Our Situation, (Prolific Press, 2018), and Everyone Disappears, (Finishing Line Press, 2020). A fourth chapbook, Little Wars, is slated for release by Kelsay Books in June, 2021. To read more by this author: "Recessional," The Wartime Issue, Vol. 7:2, Spring 2006. To read more by this author: "Recessional," The Wartime Issue, Vol. 7:2, Spring 2006.