This day, with hypoplastic clavicles, belongs
to the middle class. The barefoot sunlight
on the sea is not eternal or external. Women
on the black canvas of time and silence walk
their panting dogs in pants. A turn of the century
strongman flexes bitter muscles by the vocal
water. The sleeping anglers tell me what to do.
Eden echoes in every evening, but it’s ten a.m.,
and morning can’t escape itself, like autumn
or the gas pumps talking about themselves and
gasping for air. In Santa Monica, the sculpin speak
harmonica and Hanukkah is wrong about me.
Some children chase a gull above the shoreline’s
purple grip. With calm unthinkability, two
butterflies are boxing for the bicyclists. Black
beer from Brazil is being scapegoated on
the Ferris Wheel. The smells of frying eggs
and churros cross the willful wilting in the air.
The hectic hectagon by the aquarium is 1)
the mud’s idea of sex, 2) a dinosaur’s dishonor
and idea of fun, 3) the famous handless surgeon,
Fate, 4) Joseph Conrad’s comrade dressed
as Halloween for Hollywood, 5) the ether’s ore,
6) an ear for oracles and earth, 7) words
to make a house, 8) fornication frowning on
the greatest fornicators, time and death, 9)
nothing’s brand new clothing, 10) a turd,
its poor door undeterred, 11) heaven and hell
literally applauding? “Well,” the pier says, “death
is far too close and life too short to long for you.”
A poet, like a lusty drover, smokes her pipe as
waves of rationality come crashing on her bench.
The funniest sky is nowhere near the hippodrome,
1875 A.D. or the trapeze school, but now it’s full
of tears. The hours, like seahorses, scatter toward
every wind. The long, double-jointed days grow
long and every vision comes to short, wide
adjoining pleasures. An angler gets a bite; not
just a sardine or drowning cloud. The hook
and rod will know it is the halibut’s goodbye.


His current home the Mojave Desert, Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the US Air Force, married with a daughter and three pets. Jake’s poems are in RadiusThe Ekphrastic ReviewThe Brooklyn ReviewThe Cossack Review and elsewhere. He won 1st place in the 2017 SFPA speculative poetry contest. His chapbook is Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing).