Salamanders: Four Simple Images

by Mike Smetzer

**************

Salamanders

When I was twelve, I caught a spotted salamander
      in the yard
and took him in a jar to school.
When I appeared with him in science class,
the teacher stood above me at a loss,
“Why did you bring it here?  We’ve all seen
      salamanders.”
This hadn’t occurred to me.
Because it delighted me to have caught him,
I brought him.
 

**************

The Whistle

I could never whistle when I
     was a boy.
Once, while I was sitting
     at my desk
absently forcing air through
my lips,
a beautiful whistle shredded
     the class.
The teacher turned from the
     blackboard
like a startled Day of Judgment.
 
When the bell rang she lined us
     up at the door
and demanded of each –
                 “DID
                   YOU
                   WHISTLE
                   ?”
“i don’t even know how,” i
     pleaded.
I still can’t.
 

**************

On Becoming Twelve

On becoming twelve, I melted down
            my crayons into wax
and lit them as rude candles in my
            room.
I watched their sooty struggle
till the pigment choked their flames
and one by one their little lights
            went out.
 

**************

Plants for Your Window

I had a friend got busted
growing tomato sprouts on his
     sill.
Eight policemen broke the door
and carried plants and him
     away.
Then in a cushion they found
his secret stash.
He should have grown
philodendrons.
 

**************

(These poems were originally published in Cottonwood Review and later included in a slightly different version in the chapbook A Quiet Man from Baggeboda Press.)

Copyright 2010 by Michael Smetzer

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