Paine 70

Tom Paine


No one is at Henry’s deliberate shack. His pond mud is aglow with cesium-137.

When I was her age we hid under desks. She sparkles in his pond like a trout.

She splashes in Rotenone, a pesticide that kills fish. Why tell her these things?

The fish were killed to put in rainbow trout for fishing. Why is the water like

pea soup? Do you want to get out? Yes, I’m sure Thoreau ate the fish here.

Algae is here because the pond is warmer. Mallamonas is all over the world.

Because we drove here with these idiots. I am not going to not know things.

Your mother is right I tell you too much. I’m glad you like the flutterbye poem.

Yes, the stars will survive. Thoreau drank from the pond, yes, but please

don’t drink cesium-137, Rotenone and Mallamonas. No, that’s a margarita.

Yes, they make your mother happy. Every night? I’ll get you a bottled water.

Ready to drive back to your mother? On a summer night the windshield

was splattered with dead bugs. It was messy when the wipers smeared them,

but dead bugs are good. I was sad for the dead bugs, but I’d give anything

for dead bugs on the windshield! No, not you. That’s really the only thing

I would not give, nor my antennae. Yes, I’m a big bug honey. We’re all bugs.

TOM PAINE’s poetry is upcoming or published in The Nation, The Moth Magazine (Ireland), Blackbox Manifold (England), Glasgow Review of Books, Volt, Fence, Forklift Ohio, Epiphany, The Common, Green Mountain Review, Tinderbox, Hunger Mountain, Hotel Amerika, Gulf Stream, Tampa Review, World Literature Today and elsewhere. Stories have been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New England Review, The Boston Review, Best New Southern Stories, The O. Henry Awards and twice in the Pushcart Prize. He has won fellowships from Sewanee, Yaddo, and Bread Loaf, and written for Francis Ford Coppola. His first collection, Scar Vegas (Harcourt), was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a Pen/Hemingway finalist. He is an associate professor in the MFA program at the University of New Hampshire.