Hook pierced in his bottlenose, tangerine
sun-tanned barracuda boy
      articulating the magnolia-
            lavish Peninsula—invasive
constrictors weave ten feet of snakeskin
& cut muscle through kudzu
     forests, camouflaged by green hell.

     Chest-pump fueling fire
bluer than a whale’s eye, he led sublime
angelfish schools to an offshore reef, guided
lost ships homeward without lighthouses
            poised on a cliff’s edge—he is rising
out of his Atlantic baptism
like a bookworm
     when the library intercom announces

final check-outs & fifteen minutes.
     He wore a denim jacket
            bluer than a whale’s eye, wriggled electric
eels through wayward Neptune’s riptide beard.
Ancient mangrove root protector,
Everglades mosquito
.       orchestra conductor,
you may find him sweating bullets
            at Lake Okeechobee’s slick edge

fishing two poles at dock’s end, waiting for dusk
     like a friend—you never have to speak,
            you know exactly what they think.


Forrest Rapier is a recent MFA graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is the winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize and has appeared in Best New Poets, Texas Poetry Review, Verse Daily, The Greensboro Review, among others. He is currently a lecturer in the English Department at UNCG.