Back to Issue Thirty-Three

Morning Song


Holy shit—it’s 6am and my bones feel
mortared to the floor. My daughters wake.

They flit to my chest and peck my carrion
heart. They’re my business these days

beyond balding and sculpting
my dad bod. I’ve reached the late stage

when two beers will hang me
over. Very quickly and without explanation,

a plot of lawn can turn brown. I fake
my death on the rug. In tighty-whities

I’m the crows’ target. I’m a king lying in state.
Pink pajamas laugh and pinch me

to life. I rise, porcupine a mango, crack eggs.
When we’re long gone, sang Solomon,

as birds reaped the fruit from his trees,
the grass will be ours, and will only half-forget us.



Greenpeace Dad Bod


It’s sundown, human sundown.
The whales mean cash and are almost gone. 

I’m here on the water with my banner and horn, 
           ready to run
           interference, to take a shot 
harpoon or two for the team. 

                       Maybe I’ll end myself 
and broadside this ship 
straight out of one of Ahab’s bony dreams. 

           It yields the sweetly dark stink of death, 
this hull made and sailed by real men. 

For Christ’s sake, I can hardly swim. 
           This is a young man’s game, 

but the more my body ages, the safer it is 
to chance my nothingness 

on the sea’s mad chop, a lunatic bobbing 
           along in a little patched boat. 

I was so much more reasonable before 
I had kids. 
                       What will they say to me 
on the couch, eating chips, 

when we hear that the last of the grandest species 
is finally gone? 
                       I don’t want to be a lighthouse 
father moaning from a frozen coast. 

           It’s sundown, frantic sundown, 
                       and men in yellow helmets hose me 
from above. I get it. 

They need to feed their families 
           so they aim down at my slicker
           and thick boots. 
I steer between their bow

and a racing pod, the sapphire flash of barnacles, 
flailing flukes. 

           We carnivore. We shark. 
A river of blood pours from the ship’s bilge. 

           The whales are too sublime to let alone
their oil’s oil and bone’s bone,

their grandeur, the intimacy of their swim 
together, their girth, 

so far beyond us just as our bodies are so far beyond 
           (dad bods all) 

with such rich and golden fat
                   hoarded inside, 
we could cut and render 
           and light
           a whole damned century with it.


David Roderick has written two books, Blue Colonial (APR/Copper Canyon, 2006) and The Americans (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014). From 2017-2019, he wrote the weekly “State Lines” poetry column for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow and Amy Lowell Scholar, and he lives in Berkeley, California, where he co-directs Left Margin LIT, a creative writing center and work space for writers.


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