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When Yes Is the Highest Jumping Off Point

It was like the poet’s drunk sailor catching tigers in red weather *
a man jumping from a 16-foot fence at
the Bronx zoo into a tiger’s den and how some
distances can’t be measured there are no instruments-----
                                              once in a ballet class

the teacher asked us to turn away from a partner and
fall backward into the belief he’ll catch us
the distance grew with every second like a monstrous plant
became more dangerous and like that night
I said yes to him, kept telling myself to jump
not think about what lies at the bottom of yes and
one other time never said the word but held my breath on it and
and fell right through….

my cat lies on my stomach purring in time to my pulse
when he spots a bug across the room, and abruptly jumps off
or it’s such a beautiful perfect weather day
lying on some grassy place, and I catch myself falling
into the sky, become the whole day before it turns
an about face and there’s that relentless tiger
luring me into red weather to try and catch him again

the man who said he wasn’t trying to commit suicide but be one with the tiger
was called crazy and lucky to have survived with only
a few broken bones and puncture wounds

survival is often just a matter of degrees

*The reference is to “Disillusionment of Ten O’clock” by Wallace Stevens

  Linda Lerner __

Five Words

he called it the five-star smash up
she said sparking off a multi car collision
in my head; but it was the word star
threw it into something else
like maybe an asteroid hitting the earth
what we joke about and don’t really believe
will happen but I’ve seen it, more than once felt
the earth break-up and in a second,
not know where I was…what planet
are you still here, my friend asked me
who repeated what her podiatrist said
about breaking five bones in her toes to
reset them correctly…something small
insignificant, but suddenly you
can’t feel the earth beneath your feet

  Linda Lerner__

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