I’d Be the Fish & Living the Dream | John Hennessy

I'd Be the Fish

What would satisfy, he asks, and I can hardly say.
Her story, I’m the fish swimming through it
from line to line. But the terrain’s too dry, no way
to brook this drought. City-planner, then, she drew it

near floodplains, I’m irrigation from the Nile,
canals that fill Venice’s green lagoon.
Let her be bank and island, from marble tile
to god’s-eye atrium. I’ll flow and drone,

a constant murmur.  Nah, you’re a racket, horn
and whistle, thorn and thistle. Fish? A shark
at best, three sets of teeth, and nothing born
above or below survives your ocean’s dark—

better admit it now. Expect nothing, accept
less. Swim uncertainty, dorsal fixed, tail flexed.

He sounds so sure. Socratic? Delphic. Stark.

Living the Dream

I reminded myself early in the day,
Don’t forget your passport. So of course
I’m at the airport without my passport.

Less than two hours until the flight left
and it was international, so I was already
an hour late. Luckily, my son

was dropping me off. He could help me
with my phone, which was frozen, stuck on
an app, an image of a red album cover. Spotify.

I was deep into trying to call my father,
good in a crisis, someone I could rely on
to bring my passport. They’d get me out of this

red album cover anxiety, this disaster. The plane
would leave without me. But no, they’d help. I gave
my son the phone, practiced my father’s instructions.

But nothing would work. I couldn’t even connect
the phone call to my father. A voice came over
my own intercom. Voice interrupting. Asking me

what would happen if I missed this plane. What
would happen? I would have to stay, or find another
flight. And what luck to be both father and son.

John Hennessy

John Hennessy is the author of three collections, Coney Island PilgrimsBridge and Tunnel, and Exit Garden State (forthcoming from Lost Horse Press). With Ostap Kin he is the translator of A New Orthography (Lost Horse Press), selected poems by Serhiy Zhadan, finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, 2021, and winner of the Derek Walcott Prize, 2021, and the anthology Babyn Yar: Ukrainian Poets Respond  (Harvard Library of Ukrainian Literature). Set Change, Yuri Andrukhovych’s selected poems, is forthcoming (NYRB/Poets Series).

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