Three Poems


ghost foghorns lullaby nights,
lighthouses pierce lake fog dreams,
herring gulls’ songs score bones.
The city familiars us
with lake fogs’ perfervid
touches with water spouts,
mammatocumulus clouds,
pneumonia fronts, buoys
that mark shipwrecks
and streets with saints’
names that friends
shot themselves or shot others on.

Here you know
when the ice pack slows shipping,
when ice turns into the music of breaking,
when moth wings beat music
from night screens. You
know summer’s triangle of light,
summer’s tridents of lilacs,
when the air clicks with gold
spiraling samaras and
where, on the first warm days,
flocks of doctors trance North Ave.
in indigo-bunting blue scrubs.


Prehistoric lake winds
night herd leaf piles
into dark, pronoun-safe
waves. Gold-god-
leaf-lit houses jewel
tarred streets. Death
always wears a costume.
Aspens tremble--I tremble
The TV asks: Are you
better off than 4 years ago?
It is so difficult
to lose the plural pronoun.
(Warning: Be careful of old
people: they’re always
trying to give you their stuff!)
In dark blue Louis Comfort
Tiffany light, lake
surfers ride superstorm
Sandy’s mobius-strip
storm waves. Loss echoes.
I slip in and out of lake sound,
verbless, in and out of the
pageantry of plural pronouns.


Bowling With Brides

When the red trolley fuzzy drunk bridal mob rolls up,
they don’t know someone in the bushes is counting.
Every Saturday, serial bridal parties pull up to the cliff
to have their bridal party photos taken with the lake
as backdrop. In cold 40° spring lake winds, 21st century
bridesmaids stand bare shouldered and shiver smiling.
At every 6th (number determined by a drawing
each Sat. morning) bridal party a neighborhood
boat horn goes off, and whoever is on bridal party watch
that Saturday must run from the bushes and knock
the unexpecting bride into the usually quite drunk
tuxedoed groom and knock them both down the cliff.
Mullein, chicory and Joe-Pye cushion the downhill roll;
grass stains add patina to bridal wear. The photos
are a hoot! The season starts earlier and lasts
longer each year (global warming?). In January
at the cliff caretakers’ banquet the slideshow is the high
point. (Last year we charged $80 a couple and no
one complained.) Brides somersaulting
head over heels in tulle- beaded- gowns is a draw.
2nd Saturday in January. Mark it on your calendar now.

—Susan Firer, Milwaukee, WI