A Feeling of AND, a Feeling of OR

Sherod Santos - 1948-
The window in mid-summer raised, and where 
the screen intersects with the frame, a web of circular 
tensile silks radiating outward from the central lair 
where a yellow spiny-backed spider waits, its six 
thorn spurs protruding rose-like from its abdomen, 
its casing imprinted with a wax seal ring. Attached 
to the foundation lines, clusters of white cottony tufts, 
lures, I suppose, for insects, and suspended 
from a single thread, a much smaller egg-shaped 
spider (the male?) swaying imperceptibly in the air: 
an image from childhood that reminds me of "childhood," 
a word that so often crosses my mind that it long ago 
ceased to mean anything other than a period of time 
when things occurred not to me so much as him, 
and all of them linked only by AND. As in the span 
of a single moment, the afternoon after the all-clear 
when the sun rose on a bloated, fly-stung pygmy goat 
in a gravel slough he crossed to wave to a woman 
with a Red Cross band on her arm. AND: the red 
pinball bumper cap ("5000 when lit") in a tented 
arcade on Brighton Pier when he was twelve.

More by Sherod Santos

A Woman Named Thucydides

Having slept in a turnout in the backseat
of her car, she awoke before dawn, shivering,
hungover, unsure of where she was. 
To her surprise, the sodium lights on the billboard 
she had parked beside were no longer on. 
Wind gusts, the smell of rain, the raw, unbroken 
landscape like a field of ice. If this had been a movie,
someone would've been sitting up front, 
someone who held her fate in his hands.
Though she couldn't see them, she could hear 
birds passing overhead. Why do they even bother
to cross so vast and empty a space? 
At the moment, none of the usual explanations 
made sense. Her head ached, her feet were cold, 
she couldn't find the words. And the man up front,
what did he think? What would he do?
Must something still happen before the end?

Related Poems

Once More, with Feeling

From our old friendship 
I never thought I'd ever remember again
How a whole tribe, such a strange group 
To me and maybe no less strange to you, 
Adopted you. 

                                  But one of that tribe, 
A professor and, according to him and others
Over there (which shows how far our land has fallen),
A poet, called you "my prince." 
And I ask myself what you ever did that he 
Could have come to think of you as his prince. 

Academic claptrap? His writings are full of clichés 
And conventional thinking. But his rapturous rhetoric 
Does nothing to clarify our understanding 
Of the mystery in your work, even though he's also called 
A critic of our contemporary poetry. 

The appropriation of you, which you wanted 
Nothing to do with when you were alive, 
Is what now seems to me so utterly strange. 
The prince of a toad? Isn't it enough 
For your countrymen to have killed you? 

And now stupidity succeeds the crime.