urbane consortium of fingers

plotting the exclusion

                    and stretching far away

from the crude and calloused brawn

of a sweaty Alberta Badlands palm


                    palm bland as prairie

life line rivers running sweat

sticky, never loving fingertips

with their excusable arrogance


narcissistic in their dexterity

a cabal of digits opposable

                                    and at odds

with the steadfast thumb

                 that loneliest stone giant

       of Easter Island


reckless lovemaking

                            in a handshake

the shameless eroticism

of a mundane gesture

                              and all the while

                   extremities of handspan

proliferating apartheid states

               across the epidermal plain




No chemical retardant       

could ever extinguish

that forest fire

of hair atop her head,

that carrot-coloured floss of flame

that singes my curious eyes,

gnawing with blazing jaw

into the aged and dried logs

of her sorrow.

Her feeble tears

only fizzle out to vapor,

drops on a ocean

of insatiable combustion.


And watching her with the darting

black eyes of a whitetail,

I blindly obey the instinct

that lies like curdled guilt in my gut,

commanding me to flee

any heat I cannot understand.



As men and beer bottles

held sweating contests,

as the German Shepherd

held like an emerald


waiting to pull a fallen

fish head

to his passionate embrace,

as I, on cedar planks,

pined for the cool

of neighbor's pool,

we cleaned perch.

Some bass.

Fillet-knives too long

for boys

severed flesh

like malicious ice skates

over plump childhood pinkies,

and I cranked

the skinning machine,

peeling scale from meat,

like a starved ape

peeling plantains.

Fish shivered

at first touch of steel

as we did

when first the pools opened.

Innards were slopped into pails.

Once, I wormed my finger

into the pea-pod chest cavity

of a rock-bass, so deep

that when I retrieved it

autumn was upon us,

and I, ages older,

sat at my desk pretending not to

think of piled guts rotting

unsupervised in the backfield.


          Jesse Ferguson 2004