Three Poems

Jeff Crandall


         A bird and a fish may fall in love,
        but where will they build their house?
— Proverb

Say I'm a penguin, and he is a flying fish.
Certainly there is some overlap?

Given the planet's biodiversity
more likely I am an emu
and he is a swordfish, some lone pelagic wanderer.
But this excludes the possibility
of even the remotest encounter.
So let us consider the joints and seams of the world,
where air presses down on water and water
kisses back, say, a pond.

Then he is a catfish prowling the shoreline
beneath the water's palpable membrane
black body all whisper, mystery and feeler.
And I am a mallard, oblivious paddler
skimming the surface of its lovely, edible scum.

When our eyes meet
through the silver film of that mirror,
the inevitable, unstoppable synaptic pulse
electrifies as the slick, undulant muscle of his body
curves like a tongue along my belly.

And who needs a weave of marshgrass,
a nest of pebbles to contain this
irrational, impossible, heady bliss?


        — Pitigliano, Italy

Knuckles and knees.
Ligament hung
thighs. The headless, the hooved.
All the dead

little chickens.
His feminine
apron stained. The shameless
revel of meat

cleaver. A surgeon's
precision. Visceral
intuition of the vein.
Upper lip like a blade edge. Stiff-

jawed. Stubble
thick as straw.
The voice of barrel-rolled

He papers the flesh —
hands flat paws,
predatory eye all
capture, cut, cure . . .

Bone Man,
love is blood.
Slit me a hog —
I want to eat.


        "Everything breakable in you has been broken . . ."
        — Daniel Hall

Archival air belies the dirt they drew me from.
My wings lie crumbled in that ground still.
(Fingers marked unknown in a Reykjavik museum,
one ear completes a French recruiter's stall.)
Fluorescence pours its green on all of us.
Why then return to face this embarrassment
of cracks and absence, blind luck and loss?

You've got it wrong (in sneakers and jeans, the docent's
sneeze, the guidebook's backward fold): Let me go
into the world: part saffron-dusted swallowtail,
part fountain jazz, wine and laughlines. The stone
heart erodes, forgotten as a pearl in its fossil shell.
Take, instead, the light sighs . . . I am broken,
yes, but broken like bread — a piece for everyone.

Jeff Crandall

Jeff Crandall is a Seattle poet, glass artist and a founding editor of Floating Bridge Press. His work has appeared previously in Beloit Poetry Journal, Bloom, Cream City Review, JAMA, and Seattle Review among others. His book of poems, The Grief Poolwas published by Firestorm Press.