Heads We Win, Tails You Lose

Summer, 2012 / No. 28

My butt all bone against curb, I’m anxious for

the golf cart’s cushion, clubs tipped over on the lawn

like a giant squid autopsy in progress. By and large

cephalopods are smart enough to stay wet.

First rule of survival: pick your battleground.

Most protomammals went inland, others did a

one-eighty, dunked back under, lost their hard-

won legs jogging by in lavender hot pants….

That’s immaterial to the issue at hand:

whales, only hours to save them, harpooning

banned in 1986, superseded on the sly. Surprise,

surprise, Japan and Norway, two countries

I’ve either visited or would like to again.

Terra firma has its pluses. Minuses include

the petrified huddle in wine cellars at Pompeii

that Picasso took a pass on as tableau; the thought

of the skeleton cupping her toddler’s skull

could scoop out your heart if you let it.

Bunkers, a.k.a. sand traps, are a cinch

to hit, they crackle in midday like tinfoil.

Iceland’s overrun with health nuts despite

the literacy rate, my twosome buddy swears

that on islands the rehydrating’s faddish.

A Jeremiah with his irons, more obtuse than acute,

he mans a vehicle with a sizable trunk.

Water can be a hazard too, as when Vesuvius lit up

like a question mark and the pyroclastic wave

vaporized H2O molecules in every body

turned glyph. Lilac for the girl’s pants, I amend

my original assessment. So many things can go wrong

when you swim recreationally in the ocean,

that’s why I haven’t. Take the U.S.S. Indianapolis,

Robert Shaw by all accounts ad libbing

“Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain”—

that was sharks, but the same medium, amplifying

military sonar, forcing our cetacean cousins

to choose sides, some ramming astray

onto shores of particulate glass. Obsidian’s black

obscures the violets crucial for its form,

in temperatures of hundreds of degrees.

Always late for tee-off, he cradles dirty looks

when denied the right to play through,

my fingers crossed for a cooler, uneventful round.

Stencilled on a dinghy, greenpeace shatters spray,

beads the lens, Handycam with jerky frame

separating whaler from prize. I mean violence,

the roar loosened when we score a hole in one.

Matthew Tierney lives in Danforth Village. His most recent book is The Hayflick Limit (Coach House, 2009), which was short-listed for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. His third collection, Probably Inevitable, will be published this fall by Coach House. Last updated summer, 2012.