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Marc Swan


Marc Swan is a retired vocational rehabilitation counselor. Poems forthcoming in Gargoyle, Queen’s Quarterly, Ropes, Coal City Review, among others. today can take your breath away, his fourth collection, was published in 2018 by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions. He lives with his wife Dd in coastal Maine.

Long Beach, Centerville, Massachusetts

Floating in a ladle of moonshine
above a school of tiny brown
minnows unfurling
like a sail through
splayed fingers—

when I turn,
they turn.
We have become the flag
in an underwater parade.
I dive deep

into inky darkness
unsure if they have followed.
We never touch
in our singular glide.
From the depths

of my throat, a plaintive cry
then another
as I look side to side
through my mask,
expecting an answer
from a pilot or sperm

or great blue, waiting
for him or her to rise up
come in so close
we could touch
nose to nose,
flipper to fin,
see eye to eye.

Come to Order

It begins with three sides and a meat:
green beans, mashed, broccoli with cheese,
chicken casserole, half and half ice tea—half sweet,
half not, and cornbread on a chipped china plate.
Next to our table a local retired judge in plaid flannel
shirt, unpressed slacks with three appellate friends
discuss life in Scottsboro, Alabama on a Monday morning
in March. The judge holds court on how he was gifted
an autographed Ruth Bader Ginsberg book by a dear friend
in DC, on to Kavanaugh who violated the code of decency
and civility when he chastised the Senate; a good conservative
he concludes, who went astray, but based on his history
he’ll do ok. The friends nod and agree finishing their tall
plastic glasses of ice tea. One of them hobbling with a cane
is helped by a younger man when they leave McCutchen’s
Magnolia House, East Willow Street on this temperate,
blue-skied day. The judge had advised my wife to try
the chicken casserole. You can’t go wrong, he said
in a calm, direct, and reassuring way.
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