Harrison Fisher

Family Musings: The Mercuries

At that time
in my childhood, 
a budding coin collector 
could still glean 

Liberty quarters, Buffalo nickels, 
pre-war wheat pennies,
wartime steel cents, and smooth,
impossibly smooth Mercury dimes

from daily pocket change, though
it was hard not to spend them
on kid things like ice cream
sandwiches and superballs.

One day I returned from school
to find a dollar bill on my kid desk. 
The mother, needing dimes 
for the dryer, had taken 

ten Mercuries from their holder.  
I went back to spending 
unexamined change on comic books.  
Spiderman’s villains were so cool:  

Doctor Octopus, the Sandman, 
the duo of the Cobra 
and Mr. Hyde, and, my favorite, 
the Scorpion.
It was good,
clean colorful fun.
It was me reading, carefree
after an initial block.


One day we had to move 
to another city, and out
went my comic books,
my poor baseball cards, too—

a needless 
lightening of the load,
masterminded by my in-house,
sinistral archenemy.

Many years later, 
only one of us survives, for now.
And the exposition drones on,
now shortened to The Expo,

a demonstration of future devices
of the first person interminable, 
fou and unco happy, waving
hello from death page.

Love Vibration in the Ecotone

During another pre-summer run to nowhere,
the cooler packed,
we reach a small park zoo, 
park, and wander around.

A mother duck surprises us from behind,
leading her perfect ducklings
so adorable 
my response is—

monstrous or natural?  Both, perhaps—
I want to see one 
claimed in its ecosystem.
I get my wish twenty minutes later

when a gull runs toward us on the sidewalk
hefting food in its beak.
The food mass is fresh
and has two tiny, webbed feet.

My wishes are coming true.
I mean we should leave.


We reach Barrington Beach
late afternoon and it’s deserted,
school not yet out for the summer,
except here’s a teenaged couple
frolicking in the waves, the girl

fully dressed against the cold water.
Their abandon is riveting.
Innes and I hang around the car,
power-hitting beers and                                              

doing a little number, 
until the boy and girl finally fall
into the classic From Here to Eternity 
embrace on the sand, the foam chugging
around their legs and up their bodies.

I am awash in sentimentality.
Later, they drive past us in their van,
leaving the parking lot.
We wave spontaneously, 

and they are already 
waving to us, smiling, clearly 
intending to wave whether or not 
we had done so first.
An utterly friendly, original gesture.

I realize I will spend 
much of the rest of my life
trying to be as happy as I am here,
drinking, facing the sea, 

waving to loved ones
I never have to know,
which, I think, is like 
the love of humanity
the major prophets felt

when they too 
were drunk and stoned.


Suddenly I was thinking about the bratty young woman
who sat two desks behind me 

in a room thundering with typewriters
as she was carrying on
to the woman in front of her  
how her boyfriend better get her
that junk-glass-studded,
gold-toned unicorn 
in the magazine ad because
this was the only Valentine’s Day
gift she wanted, 

and I thought of these four things—a harsh and probably 
unappeasable voice demanding tribute,

a risible unicorn statuette, 
the feckless holiday itself,
and my soul-crushing employment 
through a temp agency
as a typist in Typee—strange world—
and I idly wondered
how many contemptible things 
thought of at once 
can dance in the gap of a synapse.

To the Moderns, a Topless Ancient Torso

          On Salisbury plain, a giant calendar made of stones, some upright,
others horizontal, sarsen and lintel, beauties in bikinis for each month chiseled 
all around, the classical invention of toplessness not having made it north.

          Some trees:  The Tree of Life, but also the hanging tree.  The tree of 
golden apples guarded by maidens, the Hesperides.  The poison arrow tree 
and the yum-yum tree.  In the willed derangement of the senses called Florida,

crying while they drown
manatees in pools, topless
gals vie for prizes!

          At first, I thought I would plunder the Ancients’ cast of thousands until
even the demiurge of Roughage had a sestina making wonder of his bowel
maintenance!  But to what end—to make poem books?  I do not scorn books
or their uses, but I prefer the high concept

of naked females on roller skates,
I extol Village proto-hipster
Maxwell Bodenheim’s novel
Naked on Roller Skates—

          AND here comes a skater now!

—stirring my spirit, my very ghost, 
to tumble all over itself like
a single white-hot sheet
in a barreling dryer!

Harrison Fisher has published twelve collections of poems. In 2023, he has had new poems appear in dadakuku, Five Fleas, Otoliths (#68), and the first issue of #Ranger, with more due in Apocalypse Confidential, Ligeia, and Misfitmagazine.
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Blogger Patrick said...

Each poem spoke to me. So true and clean. Powerful writing. Thank you.

-Patrick Sweeney

9:08 AM  

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