Janet I. Buck

The Mermaid & the Octopus

One was myth;
the second real.
Two views 
in the bathroom mirror.
A: a wish
for placemats
at a normal feast.
B: the truth
of wasted flesh
that fate had stolen
rubies from.
In amputation's acid sea,
a leg is just a tenacle;
motion rules
the issue fire.
The nipple will
would twist itself
to meet the ardor
or her limp.
Lonely, loveless
onyx black
would turn to
slick and teal
mermaids basking
on uneven docks.
Knuckles pink
and turning pale--
white circles of
a curled shrimp.
Even though
the ground was hard,
the pearls of his arms
were soft.
The waves were 
less like acetone
and sand seemed
not the rock it was.

Roses on a Closing Grave

My fountain pen,
a private quill
like tongues that
hate a broken tooth
but keep on
coming back to it.
In those holes
the ghosts 
undress and 
leave their issues
on the floor.
The pencil trace
around a finger.
The siren of
and ambulance
that doesn't quite
undo a wreck.
Its presence
has a comfort horn.
The blare of human
thinking hard
in ditches building
caves to dwell.
Its music
not of certainty.
The taste is
not of absolution.
Just of meager
sculpted clay.
Still its silkworm
somehow there--
like roses
on a closing grave.

The Salmon Run

The stretch of disabled
is a salmon run:
all upstream through
cruel rivers banked with eyes.
Its ruby pink frustration flesh
determined to dance around rocks
that keep it from the hatch of life.
The gurney goes to surgery
as guts that meet a table knife.
I have to work around my limbs.
You could (if you wished)
walk away from fiery skewers
of circumstance, but choose to stay
for reasons that I can't explain
but always need to celebrate.
What distinguishes hope
from the destiny of a dead fish
are hands your size that
soothe the hiss of aging bones.

I know I wear these courage rings
as collars on a stiffened monk.
Under white lives helplessness.
Beneath them lies a bitter boil.
Fiddles of sarcastic tunes
are ways I doodle in the snow.
I haven't told you quite enough:
your loving arms do dwarf the pain.
This hospital tag is a bracelet of fate.
Upon the tails of hurricanes,
attached to one more round of knives,
my tongue will always crave your touch,
like pitch on thirsty Christmas trees.
My stump a pretty stale baguette;
scars are ugly swastikas
on bands of antsy arms.
They don't belong (but have a gun);
tie my hands behind my back
with bullets of a worried breeze.