by Swanson Tudor

I was twelve and vexed by my face

its one true eye seeing only the left side of things;

angry at the legs

lank branches, each center knurled and scarred

my hair cursed

a taunting trove of cowlicks, stalky and bullheaded;

annoyed at the size of my feet

making my shoes look like clod hoppers;

arms loose on each side, two sticks extending

knocking, elbowing and dangling without manners and grace. 


I would bring this uncouth congregation

to my oasis, dense with ticks and garden snakes

a hidden patch of scrub and sassafras

gone mad in the sticky summer sweetness

pulling at its uneasy borders

of drainage ditch and fussy trim lawns.

In the heat and insect hum

of late afternoon, it would sleep, languorous and sated,

while, within the perfect and heroic body

of Ulysses, I explored its green and rank coat.


My sword rose and fell amidst a swarm

of blackberry bush, stinkweed and maniacal thicket

following a trail left by Lotus-eaters

who had stopped to rest in that hobo Eden;

I imagined them crouching, talking,

mellow laughter, smoke between their broken teeth

dancing over the last drop

and the luck of good company;

reconciled with their memories, they dreamed

stretched out in the warm night air.


Leaving me to discover a hidden treasure

of empty wine bottles, and a single abandoned boot.