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killing fisch

every time fisch comes for passover
like he's invited
without removing his hat
sending his wife myra into the kitchen
to bedevil rachel with recipies
waving his stogie in my face
unlit, chewed at the end,
one wonders who would miss him

buchenwald, he says, and sobibor
and auschwitz
like he knows a cousin maybe
from the warsaw ghetto-once removed
but with a moisture about his dew-lips he teaches me
when telling it
he never saw it

fisch plagues this house
at the hour of bitter herbs
making every heart yearn
to end his days while he and myra snore
but no one has a plan

wait, says I, who's to say that killing fisch
would tone things down
manage moods or make passover
a minute less annoying?

something new is bound to arise
if it's not fisch, it's his brother;
rachel dreams of killing fisch-
I ask "who would bother?"


Tristan rocks with his knees to his chin;
institutional white
on a wheelchair span of naugehyde.
He turns away, troubled at our approach,
as if shying from light.

By his bed on the tray-stand sits
a lunch untouched and milk unopened;
speakers mounted in the ceiling
announce, in muffled tones,
that visiting hours are over.

Silent and unheeding, Tristan rocks.

We study him, past comment now:
it's been two years-
and ask the questions once again,
the useless ones;
"Did someone touch you, Tristan?
Did some forbidden thing happen
when we lost you at the mall
the day we decided to shop in town?

Can't you try your fruit cup?"

As humidity-conditioned
convalescent air
gives way to the blast of August,
a swinging door toward freedom opens
past the smiling admissions nurse
and sends us to the visitor's lot.

We wonder where we parked,
and how it is we live our lives,
while in some lost unreachable world,
in a torment none can fathom,
Tristan suffers.

Long-Necked Clams

Chelsea takes the unwitting
cousin from the tent pavillion
by the hand engagingly
down to the water's edge,
away from the family reunion
and the Myron Florin rendition
of Stairway to Heaven;
looks her victim in the eye
puts a shell up to his ear and says

And on the shimmering lake he sees
craft with standing fishermen,
great blue herons gliding past,
cormorants and shore birds,
long-necked clams in the shallows,
and a four-year-old with a conch
garnered from the broad Atlantic,
beaming sunlight from her certainty,
showing him her treasure.

And at that high-noon moment,
with mullet spawning,
flapping in the littoral,
and midges swarming, numbers growing,
though the ocean in the shell,
wobbly pressed by dimpled fingers
yields no sound-
he sees the earnest questioning look
and an eager mind he cannot hurt
and says "I hear it."

When the sweat-drenched cousin
nervous from the encounter,
has scrambled up the grassy bank
back to gingham covered cedar tables,
laden with provender of the country kind,
and has forgotten the event entirely,

Chelsea tugs the pocket of
a lad, this one sun-burned,
attending kites tethered by strings,
and minding a kettle of long-necked clams.
Giving him an ingenuous look,
she holds her shell to his bending ear,
and smiling broadly,
says "Listen!"


Copyright © 2011 Lannie Baylor

Lannie Baylor is a native of Bucks County Pennsylvania now living with his wife Suzie near the State College campus of the Pennsylvania State University. Although he holds advanced degrees in Molecular Biology and is a technical writer by trade, most of his income is derived from troubleshooting IT security issues- a vocation not always associated with the nuances of introspection and soul-sharing. Perhaps because of this, Lannie's poetry is always an exploration of momentary vignettes and immediacy, using characters captured in the crystalline "now". Intentionally devoid of "I"s "Me"s and "My"s, the poet's authorial style is purposefully contrived to tease the reader into stealing a second glance when they should properly be getting emails answered or the pasta water started.

Lannie does not neatly fit the image of an established poet. He keeps no Irish Setters, has no elbow-patched cardigans and makes facial expressions resembling grand mal seizures when attempting to sip aged scotch. Social causes are as mysterious to him as label warnings not to take Preparation H internally. He will, however, smoke excessively while typing and may be relied on to profane the Almighty in ways not often heard outside federal prisons when a needed word or phrase eludes him. Throughout his work, though, one consistent thread can be observed- first and foremost, Lannie writes to entertain.