Thursday, February 14, 2013

Three Poems by Karla Linn Merrifield

Neotropical Hexagram

I am an avian, as in:

(river)              -headed
(flood)             -crested
(canopy)          -capped

(monkey)         -crowned
(sloth)              -hooded
(bat, dolphin)   -eyed

(vine)               -billed
(cecropia)        -backed
(bromeliad)     -collared

(bee)               -throated
(ant)               -fronted
(wasp)            -bellied

(moth)            -tailed
(morpho)        -legged
(grasshopper) -footed

(sun)              -tipped
(sun)             -winged
(sun)             -Amazonas

The Two Dead Rivers of Florida

flow like flash fiction…

Darn it, Angel, I told you they were tiny. Think enameled fingernail clippings in aquatic hues. I warned you they were difficult to find without a small-scale atlas. You could have borrowed my Delorme. You could have done nicely with free handout maps from the rangers in the two state parks wherein their supposedly-protected boundaries lie! But, nooooooo. You didn’t even ask for directions. So you ended up deader than a dead river in Florida. Way off course. Lost in the sawgrass. Eaten alive.

a jingle…

           The Dead Rivers of Flor-id-ah, Flor-id-ah,
           the Dead Rivers of Flor-id-ah, Flor-id-ah
           will sparkle your saddest winter day-o!


            Screech owl’s eerie whinny
            across marshland tidal miles—
           Dead rivers dead.

or like this, guidebook style:

Though neither is artesian spring-fed, as short fresh streams, the two Dead Rivers of Florida slowly rise. They are not crystalline, nor are they an agreeable constant temperature. They snake through spartina grass and needle-tipped reeds, passing the nests of denizen alligators.

Mathematically, Florida’s two Dead Rivers
suggest a sluggish parallelism.

          Though one is lake-bound, mid-centrally,
          green, potable; its claim to fame:
          baptizing the last of the Alachua….
          the other journeys to a confluence
          near the Panhandle Gulf; brackish-brown,
          undrinkable; it’s notable for drowning
          the last of the Apalachee...
          they share a common destiny common
          to too many of their watery kind.

The Dead Rivers of Florida
are fraternal twins of poison
at the vanishing point.
As I’ve been saying,
same name, same brief story—

or a magic trick:

        Now you see them, now you don’t.

                               for Eve Anthony Hanninen
The Story of @
@, who is my lover,
             my vagabond time-
                           traveling s@isfier
since c. 1345,
           when, in syncop@ed Bulgarian transl@ion,
                    he did curiously situ@e
his varieg@ted self—
           @ as in amin
                        th@ is, amen.
During the Italian Renaissance,
          he migr@ed; commercial inspir@ion
                         made my money-honeyed bedm@e lather
Saliv@ing, @ denoted in 1448
             Aragon’s wheat shipments,
                          and opi@ed @ motiv@ed.
Who? Wh@? Goya! Buñuel!
             to voluptuous sc@tering p@terns
                         of sp@ial lust.
Spread-eagled in 1674, I @e
            the very first @, swallowed
                       @’s annot@ion for at (en Français).
My bold, royal paramour—
                          anticip@ed accountants
and @ is recre@ed as the r@e of,
            my nimble cre@ure of equ@ions:
                         e.g., 8 lib@ions @ $8 = $64.
S@iating himself in 1884,
             he licked my ring finger tip—
                          Shift + @ > caress.
of earliest Underwoods; I pressed
             against @ until he mut@ed
                         into email loc@ions in 1971.
Now? 42 years l@er, @’s ardor
             is unabbrevi@ed, unmunged; he enters
                        my inbox, again, again.
By 2012, answering to ampersand,
           @, the amperset;
                       @, the @nifier; @, mon amour
rot@es me in cyberspace.
              klmerrifield kisses @
                            n@turally, like second n@ure.
Karla Linn Merrifield recently received the Dr. Sherwin Howard Award for the best poetry published in Weber - The Contemporary West in 2012. A seven-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, she has had 300+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has nine books to her credit, the newest of which are Lithic Scatter and Other Poems (Heartlink) and The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica (Finishing Line Press). Forthcoming from Salmon Poetry is Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North, and Attaining Canopy: Amazon Poems (FootHills Publishing). Her Godwit: Poems of Canada. (FootHills) received the 2009 Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye ( Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet, at

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