Three Poems By Steve Mentz

April 2020

Not our call, boy. Pronounce your own sentence,
And let its cold raw taste linger, bitter –
A stench of unform’d words and off syntax,
Sour milk fingers just now refresh Twitter.
And what about their words, that last longest?
Dead again today, pinned between covers,
Hot, in quarantine that lasts through August,
Verses of voyages, expiring brothers.
The Friar’s letter never was delivered.
The searchers of the town locked him in.
Slant-rhymes fish-like were silvered,
And burn hot in my throat like old man’s gin.
It is a mad thing to read on a book.
Outside’s a place not to touch but to look.

Editor's Note: The author would like to credit Art Zilleruelo for the first line of this poem.
May 2020 

Is here again and I cannot hold them both --
Or “is” or storm: two choices only. All night 
The surge splatters my house. Third month
Of quarantine splashes disorder tight.
To shore curls a wave, delicate, reveal-
ing wind’s ruffle over ocean’s taut skin.
It traps dry feet on narrow shore, conceal-
ing routes beyond the seas they underpin.
Soliton waves don’t last forever,
Though they outpace horse and rider, pinch high
Through the narrows, vanish behind heather,
A twist in time’s river, bubbling, terrify --
Waves never break without shoreward going.
In my neighbor’s yard an ark is growing.

Editor's Note: The author would like to credit Lee Ann Brown for the first line of this poem, and Andrea Selch for the last line.
May 2020

I don't really know, but at least they're home.
That’s what I mouth to hollow pre-dawn air,
In vacant hours of teenage sleep syndrome.
My black coffee, meditation, despair
Hold me still in don’t-wake-them quiet -- nowhere
Or watching a poet’s pot that never boils
Because the burner’s in need of repair
Or the back garden’s full of gargoyles
That lure me to combat – I bring my oils –
With thump and thwack and splash and grab and screech 
Until the monsters’ heads hide ‘neath subsoils.
Conquering Dad-hero my task I preach: 
Hunker down or hightail to the highlands:
I cleave these two from so many thousands --

Editor's Note: The author would like to credit Andrea Selch for the first line of this poem.

Steve Mentz is a writer who lives on the Connecticut Shoreline and teaches in Queens. His poems have appeared in the Glasgow Review of Books, Underwater New York, Blood and Bourbon, and in the book Oceanic New York. His most recent book is Ocean, part of Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series.

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