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Poetry #427
(published March 26, 2009)
Requiem for a Shrimp Boat
by Kenneth Clark
We have no hills
to hide behind
or worry about trucks
coming in the wrong lane.

No forests marching
by ten miles over
the speed limit—
this is the long straight

road to the boat slip and docks.
Day by day we push
by in our god given ways
like infantry that march right

into what comes next—we have
no mountains in the distance
that sun and moon play
hide & seek behind.

All season I concede to the tides
and the shrimp: I beg them come up
quickly into the butterfly nets so
my skeleton can drink itself to sleep again

The wet night on the boat
is endless. The not-knowing is out
there waiting with each winch-pull
of the nets—the gravel & silt sand

bottom dreams washed down from America.
Here where the land pours
tar and temperament into the Gulf.
The gray flesh is captured under moonlight
and star-twists to be boiled pink enough to eat.

I once had a mistress who paid me
to listen to her instead of having sex.
We dined at odd hours to avoid
the husband and friends. We cried

over small laughter that's now perfected
in my memory: her lower lip that folded
under itself. Her nails painted in demure
shades of pink, like a tail-on prawn

that waits to be tasted then discarded

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