Thursday, June 9, 2016

Three Poems by Ken Poyner

Out of Reasoning

You realized
mid-season that
with warmer water
coursing the ocean's veins--
making it torrid and sassy and carnal
and not the water you would bring in a bucket
home to mother--that not
as much of its salt
would, with traveling cold water--
even boxed with glacial metl
and the oblivion of icebergs,
caught in the metronome of a dying world--
sink:  so much so
that the ocean
near shore
would seem saltier
even as the ocean stored less salt.
And that is what excites the fish,
draws them closer in,
makes them comfortable in the crowded
neighborhood of the expiring land.
Some of the fish,
no less enticed than the least,
would be shark, and so
the regrettable number of
human encounters
would sympathetically go up.

And we think of it:
we are such easy prey.

The Final Tiger

This particular expiration
was the end of the show.

He did not think of extinction.

He did not look around as if to acknowledge
similar tigers yet free, others breathing in his moment.

His memories, if he had memories,
were not of the long sentence
of his kind, now resolved.
His worrisome, glass-edged memories
would have been of the need to start
with a burst of low, leathery, unbottled

speed--acceleration and not endurance--
an angle to cut off the most
laggard of the herd.  Only the most laggard.
Never the best:  the best could go on,
breed, build an ever stronger species, a species
that would last past the sacrifice
of its slowest, the sacrifice of the ones
at the uncelebrated back of the pack.

His loss was foretold to us by those of us
lingering unchallenged at the back of our pack.

They are looking over their shoulders still.

The Fishermen

The angry trees are collecting.
They wash in from miles away,
greet each other with esoteric
twists of raging branches, affectionately intermingle
their livid roots.  Tirelessly
they arrange.  How many canoes
could be made from their sparkling trunks!  Leaves
balled into fists, they glare,
canopy to canopy, at us.  We
are mere marveling creatures.
We did not know trees could harbor
such cellulosic enmity.  What
has anyone done to the trees?
What picayune tribute do they want?
More trees arrive, the list
of species growing bellicosely encyclopedic.
They crowd collegially in on one
Another, and still
they come, leaning forward as though
coming with a burden they carry not
out of bondage, but carry privately in praise.
We try to gauge the limits of their roots,
contend within groups over casual
estimates of the numbers of their leaves.
There will be a chronicle of this.
We will teach our children about the day
of our angry trees, trees with their leaves
wooden in rage, with serrated bark and
cascading branches and competition scowls.
Some of us are so rapt in observance
that vendors are rushing out with box
lunches, bottled water, imaginative folding chairs.
There are so many trees that they look
like the bone bed of our ocean, or
the boneless, brave skeleton
of a seasoned maritime weather.
Oh my.  See:  a forest.

Ken Poyner often serves as unlikely eye-candy at his wife's powerlifting meets.  His latest collection of brief fictions, "Constant Animals," can be located through links on his website,, and at  He has had recent work out in Analog, Asimov's, Poet Lore, Sein und Werden, and several dozen other places, both in print and on the web.


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