Russell Rowland

Ice Fisherman

One season a year, he sets his bob house
on the groaning ice, in which stars appear,
and a fault can run for miles.  He needs
a dowser’s telepathy to trace the lives
of unseen catch.  Also a gas generator.

Buddies stop in, walking on water like
Jesus, but not, thank you, fishing for men.
There are discussions of bait, and spouses.
Some find a tug on the line better than sex.
Knowing the parties involved, maybe it is.

His bob house, three seasons out of four,
is a shed in the back yard.  The good wife
keeps garden tools there.  She makes sure
the side with a signboard, “Master Baiter,”
doesn’t face the street.  I mean, honestly.

The last house off the ice before ice-out
may be the one that goes through the ice.
Hard to remember the bob house colony
in July, when ripples wash ashore.  Pastor
is right, we have no continuing city here.



In Our Sixties

We have crossed that divide:
love exclusively after dark,
when extinguishing of lights
and withdrawal of candid sun
render each withered flower
invisible—and willful fantasy

fills sightless eyes with images
of its own preference.  In you,
I marry all those radiant girls
in school who caught my stare
and laughed, while a left hand
remained sole faithful lover.

I wrote verses they were not
ever meant to see.  A friend,
so-called, ripped best of these
from my spiral notebook, and
passed it to Emily; hence class
reunions don’t appeal to me.

Night turns you into Emily:
adolescent dream comes true.
In the bathroom, before bed,
expected by you but unseen,
snipping all white hairs from
below, I’m forever seventeen.



Thinking Toward Christmas on Black Friday

Imagine Caspar camped before the sliding door
in hopes of gold, Balthazar wrestling myrrh away

from a dark lady in cabalistic skirts.  Meanwhile,
back on the piazza, Melchior snorts frankincense.

Then, behold old Simeon emptying his house.
All furniture, priced upon the lawn.  The words

he spoke, the loves he made, the sights he saw,
wing away like Noah’s dove, once land emerged.

The Daystar lets Simeon go in peace, without
needing to tear down his barns for bigger ones.

Good Friday turns Black.  The undead army of
zombie Jacob Marleys moves to a martial beat,

bound by chains to weighty plasma televisions
which, right from the packaging, were obsolete.



Christmas Pageant in Church

It is when three sugar-high girl angels
are kneeling in an artifice of prayer,

two-thirds of the Magi missing a cue,
shepherds tripping over their own crooks,

that the manger, cradle to a plastic doll,
begins to shine with the dazzle of the sun,

and we who hold our candles, we become
candles—the steeple over us a taper too.

I begin to soften, then to bend.  All those
around me are softening and bending—

liberals, conservatives, our ADD children
and our grandparents with dementia—

as the blaze from the crèche Gerard made
in his workshop between swigs of whiskey

molds many autonomous waxes into one
growing votive—neither male nor female,

neither slave nor free.  No one is bereft,
or at war.   Burglars, denied darkness, out

of work.  There’s not a shadow anywhere:
earth can’t eclipse the full moon any more.

© Russel Rowland

New Hampshire Lakes Region poet Russell Rowland has seven Pushcart nominations, one Best of the Net nomination, two Finishing Line Press chapbooks, and many contributor’s copies to show for a lifetime of writing, revising, and submitting.

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