An octopus lingers over two square containers, each marked
with the flag of a country vying for the World Cup championship.

Tentacles oscillate in psychic confusion until the signal is clear,
the choice made. The octopus descends over one container,

snags a mussel, devours it. The prediction, broadcast across the globe,
portends victory for the chosen, disaster for the rejected.

Hoards of hate letters pour into the aquarium—death threats, calamari
recipes, warnings of revenge. Love letters, too, overfill the mail slot,

requesting oracle services for election outcomes, the likelihood
of marriage proposals, winning the lottery. The octopus, eight legs

undulating in sea-water domain, floats undaunted by fame,
while we stretch for something to believe in, something to fill

the hollow in our lives with a strategy more solid than chance.
We open our fists to the palm reader; scan the seams in our hands

for hidden significance. We subscribe to the horoscopes, revel
when the solar eclipse erects Libra’s love life, when the alignment

of Mars and Saturn leads Sagittarius to new employment. We watch
for signs and omens, premonitions and prophecy, and just when

we despair that nothing is worthy of faith, another miracle
juts through the clouds, and the odds tell us this one is real—

like the octopus, one hundred percent correct in his predictions,
and if you can’t believe the mollusk, there’s a parakeet in Singapore

eager to reveal your fate.

Published in Slant, A Journal of Poetry – Summer 2011

Common Miracles

For Kendall

We walk the country road
along the boundary of your neighborhood,
where a barbed wire fence
curtains the field. Cows graze the land;
horses roam
and collect at the small cedar clump
beside Robbins Creek.

We hear the bellow
before we see the cow on the ground,
her sides heaving
as she pushes a wet calf out of her body,
front feet and head first,
the birth broad and raw, and your face,
wide as the moon.

For a moment
you don’t speak, then questions gush
in the rush of water
and stand like the calf on shaky legs.
This is how ideas are born,
and poems, within the veiled chambers
of the heart.

This is how thoughts
travel paths under thin shade of cedars,
under birch and sycamore,
under moss that mounts starry eyes
along the creek bed.
This is how wishes wing their way
to hope, to belief.

The calf turns brown eyes
to halcyon sky. His mother licks and cuddles,
prods his first tentative steps.
We stand awed, witnesses to the breezes
browsing the tussock, drying
the calf’s fur, as the sun spreads glitter
across the potent land.

Published in Yemassee, Spring 2010
First Place Winner of the Tennessee Mountain Writer’s Poetry Contest, Spring 2010
Included in the chapbook, Continuum, by Sandy Coomer – published July 2012, Finishing Line Press

The “Not” Poem

This is not how things should be, holed up in a motel room,
not pretty or comfortable, not even clean. Just when
our mother tells us we are not waiting for you anymore,
you arrive, and we watch her straddle relief and anger.

Things feel not far from right but not far from wrong either.
Our mother does not ask where you have been and you do not
tell her. You say – If that is not the roar of the ocean I hear
in this beat-up motel, I don’t know what it is – except you

do not say beat-up motel, you do not say this place not on the strip,
not near the arcade and its pizza kitchen, the one you do not like.
You do not say you will drive us those few blocks to the public beach.
You do not offer to gather us in your arms and carry us over

hot sand to the line where the aqua water turns it cool gray.
We will not go without you, my mother’s firm mouth now says.
She does not look at you. We do not know what to do except to not
look at you either. We wonder when we will not have to do this


Published on The Southeast Review’s website, Spring 2011

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