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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Holiday Burn

By: Ed McManis

Buried to our chins in holiday

sand, summer skittering on crab legs

net-to-net, the cool aloe of her lips

mouthing what we don’t say aloud.

My starfish hand between her breasts,

salty lick of brine on her lower back,

cove of desire between our thighs,

rush of the foaming tide.

All our secrets are the same.

Her hand tugging me under,

undertow of desire, family, giant rusty

anchor in my chest tapping a code,

all those yellow-taped claws.

“I guess they have to boil them alive.

But they say they can’t feel pain.”

And I believe her again. Believe

we’ll return next year.

Baking in the late afternoon sun,

pineapple orange horizon

cups the flaming corona silhouetting

shadowed sails streaming for evening shore.

Night leaves us holding a shovel

of regret, this sand bucket heart,

one foot in the boiling pot,

that endless, shimmering

ocean of fire.


Ed McManis is a writer, editor, erstwhile Head of School, father, and lousy gardener. His work has appeared in more than 50 publications, including The Blue Road Reader, California Quarterly, Cathexis, Narrative, Lascaux Review, etc. He, along with his wife, Linda, have published esteemed author Joanne Greenberg’s (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden) latest novel, Jubilee Year.Little known trivia fact: he holds the outdoor free-throw record at Camp Santa Maria: 67 in a row.

"Holiday Burn: The poem started as a series of images and sensations, something between jazz licks and abstract painting, no intended destination. The poem took shape when I was in a grocery store and passed one of those lobster tanks, saw half a dozen lobsters, ancient and magnificent, trying to crawl up the glass, those great claws taped shut with yellow tape. That image took me to the sea, the yellow of the horizon, a palette of other colors, the sensation of cutting those claws, the freedom and forgiveness expanding to the horizon, and always the grief just under the surface, that tap-tapping of mortality on the glass beneath the pleasures of the first few stanzas."


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