Poetry - Issue 08 | February 2010

Two Poems by Jon Sands


The Fishermen

for J.V. C.H. A.F. E.H. E.M.

Sometimes you dance slow with your best friend
while a woman you love differently than you love
Etta James sings At Last into a karaoke machine
like she wrote it in the bathroom. 
Sometimes every person you know is drunk enough
it becomes a new definition for sober.

There is a bar on the west side of Brooklyn
the fishermen call home (or they used to
when Brooklyn had fishermen), a siren carrying them back
to their whiskey. Sometimes there is tonight.
We are six people making footsteps that never disappear.
Can you imagine the lines we have drawn to get here?

There are people who have called us their homes.
Tonight, there is family in the oxygen. Sometimes,
two people is its own person. It has a lifespan,
it gets hungry, it too, can lie underneath its sheets
and wonder how it can still feel alone—
Sometimes it is more. 

There is a phone booth in the bar that seats one.
Six of us scramble inside, crawl up the walls
until even our drinks fit. Our bodies are rediscovering
what it is to be possible. It is one night
when the clocks in Brooklyn begin to spill backwards,
then stop. The bartender — still as a stalagmite,

while the perfect pour stays perfect.
The couple at the corner table,
together like popsicle sticks in a freezer—
the ovvvvv from I love you suspended
in the air like a vibrating chandelier. 
We, with our songs, with our slow dances,

our smiles —  which on any other day
rotate like the swing on a jump rope —
we are the last to go, we are the last to go

we are last —

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About the author

Jon Sands never runs into the animals he’s scared of, but the list includes grizzly bears, hornets, scorpions, and bull sharks. He landed in New York City a few years ago; the animals there aren’t nearly as frightening as they seem. He is director of poetry and arts education programming at the Positive Health Project, a needle exchange center in Midtown Manhattan.

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