James Grinwis
My Flimsy Crew

They’re in the boat and the boat
is sinking. Because of discipline nothing
is possible but the voice of the captain, who
is otherwise missing and flushed of meaning.
They take events the way they are
in their own hands and drop the oars,
look for planks of wood, friendly fish,
the horns of otherworldly creatures
to grab onto. An empty keg has meaning here,
and two soldiers decide that this
is as good as anything for miles.
Another has a belt and he’s lashed it
with his arm around a piece of plastic,
some cloth attached and billowing
above it, and now the wind drags him
slowly away. The way a letter you always
wanted to write and did goes off unhurriedly
and naked into the sunset or raindrop
or whatever happens to be happening
on that particular day. Like someone waiting
for a rescue plane and so amazed when it comes by
that he skips a beat and just watches
it glide past. The calm birds overhead
give life an oblivious, un-glittery and painful quality
that can be usual for birds when one
really ponders them this far out.
Once I was collecting all the cans a fortress
had thrown out, quite a lot of cans, and they
bulged in my cargo hold like the belongings
of men who have seen something of the world
and decided to bring with them a bit too much.
Maybe it’s better to leave everything behind,
better wait for a miracle rather than go onward,
lips curled in a persistent snarl,
pen and paper so ink-spattered and mad
there’s really no order in the end
to the way the ink is falling over each
tiny shrapnel of itself. Like a vine
that has grown so tangled and over-wrought
there’s no gravity left to hold it stable,
no firm soil either, no bird swirling above the wreck,
hoping at least for a bit of fish
to suddenly rise; a bit of resurrected life
which would float, and drag the past
back towards the beginning.

Found In Volume 34, No. 06
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James Grinwis
About the Author

James Grinwis’s poems have appeared in recent issues of Mississippi Review, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, Crazyhorse, Conduit, Prairie Schooner, and others. A book-length collection of his work is included in Skidrow Penthouse #5.