Selected Poems

by Christopher Locke


          for Lisa

Spain for a month, and our days became
complicated as pushing the balcony doors
open, the white houses packed in
like immaculate skulls. Children played
in the streets, their voices like water running
in another language. At the market,
bananas sunned themselves in wooden carts
and fish with names I couldn’t pronounce
dried neatly across rows of newspaper. But
what I liked most were all the dogs
loping through the alleys,
sniffing out another restaurant
where the chef was asleep and not
watching his chickens -- can you
imagine such freedom! Yes, to lean
off that balcony and know you were
behind me, naked and murmuring
in a haze of Spanish dreams;
to know I could fall from the world
and into your arms.

The Sea Snake

                      --Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

We stood on the shore in half
circle, watching it crest
near our toes then back
into the waves. Its yellow body
was exhausted, and I knew it was
coming there to die. A local warned
it was the world’s most poisonous snake;
we laughed to prove how unafraid
we were but found ourselves
stepping back and away. Soon, the sun cracked
its furnace door and our skin
grew slick as blown glass. Growing
bored, people went back to their other lives,
but I stayed, wishing the snake
could succeed in his dying.
When it finally beached, the body
deflated and collapsed on itself
the way you collapsed onto me
that night, both of us drenched
and consumed, stunned by the certitude
that our thirst too
might never be answered.

©2001 by Christopher Locke

Christopher Locke's poetry has appeared widely in magazines and e-zines across North America, including The Literary Review, Exquisite Corpse, Descant(Canada), Connecticut Review, The MacGuffin, and recently on National Public Radio. His second book, Slipping Under Diamond Light, is forthcoming this summer from Clamp Down Press. Chris is a staff writer for Red Herring Magazine.

Art print by Alan Blaustein, Generalife, Granada, Spain

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