Spring 1988, Volume 5.1
Poetry

ROBERT MIKKELSEN

What If

What if all my
Frustrated young desires
Were boxed-up somehow
And stored in a
Dark comer of my brain?
After forty years in a tight box
They could turn
Mean as chickenpox coming back as shingles.
And what if a big clumsy impulse,
Like wanting to adopt a starving orphan,
Knocked over that box
And they broke out,
Dived down an air vent
And got back into my system?

For forty days at sea
I longed for squid
In garlic sauce.
After we docked
I went looking for some
But got distracted in Basic's Bar
And forgot squid.

There I am with this
Nice old lady my age,
Kissing her fingers in the solarium,
When I see their little, squiddy
EYES!
Without sauce
I eat her index finger to the knuckle.
Her perfume is subtler
than Rosie's.

On the vacant, moonlit
Football field,
Fourth down and goal to go,
Mary Lou London said no.

I'm the last one on the bus.
As the door closes and we start to move,
I notice that the driver
With the buckshot eyes
And the untreated hair
On her upper lip is
MARY LOU!
I rush her.
She straightarms me against the farebox
Shouting that she can't make change
For crissakes, Mac. I rebound.
We careen through the intersection.
The goal line is in the other direction
receding again

The Navy flight instructor
Tried to be kind.
"Sorry, son, you lack
Inherent flying ability.

Near the end of my lecture on
The Love Song of 1. Alfred Prufrock
My wristwatch beeps the hour. It's
GENERAL QUARTERS!
Pilots are manning their planes!
I climb up my lecturn to
The cockpit of my
Corsair
And start the engine.
I revv her up,
Wait till we come into the wind and
Launch,
Crashing into the form row.
I waken among screaming
sea girls.

My creative writing teacher told me
On a bleak November day
That poetry wasn't my genre.
"Stay with the essay," she said.
I wanted to be dead.

What if all my
Frustrated young desires
Were boxed-up somehow
And stored in a
Dark comer of my brain?

Falling at Fifty

It's true that no gal will give in
To no man what's nine-hundred years,
But true without interest,
Like a man falling
From ten stories up,
Arousing suspense only about
The size of the mess.
We are piqued more by middle distance.
A man in fall
From, say, three stories.
He could be killed.
His injuries may be serious
And unpleasant to see.
What must be done
While the ambulance comes?
And so at fifty I plummet toward
The girl who returned my smile,
Half certain she'll say no,
But not which bones I'll break.