Just Ask Daedalus

Mermaid 4

by Larry Duncan

sometimes grace seems coiled
in the air of this small room
lingering around my ears
like cigarette smoke
tumbling behind the blinds
like dust caught in errant shafts of light
the light catches a shard of glass
or a picture frame or my screen
and there’s something in the shine
something inevitable, unavoidable
lifted to me like an offering
and it would only take the simplest motion
to close my fingers
and pluck it from the ether
as if it were easy
as if it were automatic
like breathing
like the heart

the dog paces the rug barking
at the darker corners of the room
holding them at bay
and i have enough cigarettes to make it through the night
something substantial in my stomach like stew
and enough beer to kill an army

and i think,
shit, man, maybe i’m something
maybe i got it
i’m a hero
a god
a titan
maybe i’m hercules
or atlas
maybe i can lift this world
and toss it
end over end
like a blue and green beach ball into the sun

and the holy choir of angels sing
each stroke laid out
a second before my fingers hit the keys
but then there’s always the morning
bad breath
and another day at work
whatever i’d eaten the day before
spewed out into the sink
my head wailing like a siren
and all those buttery wings
in a shamble of feathers
across the hardwood floors

Previously appeared in The Mas Tequila Review and in Crossroads of Stars and White Lightning.


  1. Lots of strong stuff here. I love the “buttery wings” which for me create an image of chicken wings, all the bones on the floor from yesterday’s dinner, as well as the wax ones.

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