Life Jacket

“Saw a poem float by just beneath the surface”
– Jim Harrison (Day Seventeen – 28 Days of Unreason)

Poems like water wings
Flotation devices
Strapped around our arms
Our chests our necks
Their gallows promise of not drowning
Holding on at/above/just under
The surface coughing out love
Hoping to breathe like the air itself
Our hearts sharked and slippery
Then slipping over onto our backs
Floating forever
Gulls floating forever
Overhead like forever
Sunburned onto our faces
Drunken and dunked in our
Breathtakingly cool skin and
Hoping we will
Live forever.

45 thoughts on “Life Jacket

  1. The repeat “forever” echoes the romantic promise lovers make… in poems especially. Deceptively deep waters, and you kept it afloat to the last ripple.


  2. One of the hallmarks of great poetry is that the opening line does not direct us where we are going – there is a twist that we don’t expect. Your simile seems so nice and comfortable and then you splash water in our faces and bring death into the pool in the form of gallows that somehow holds us just beneath the surface (maybe/sometimes). The outcome is that we cough out love – what? We took love into our lungs and almost drown? Now – here is where you really messed with my mind. The flipping over onto the back part – I went, “Wait! Didn’t I just write that?” And I went to my blog hunting for the line. I didn’t find it because it is in my scheduled post for tomorrow – Day 18. Honest to God’s truth. (I work about 36 hours in advance on these – writing Friday’s post this evening.) Anyway – enough of the freaky part – the life saving and life destroying quality of poetry is the center of it all and so true. Lastly, the gulls overhead when you float on your back in the water is one of the most surreal images I’ve seen/felt in ages. Whew! I’m done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So much thanks, and for how much thought you put into your reply. My bar is so much lower than all that, but it sounds like I made it past “not terrible” which is all I can ask. I see why this was your favorite prompt. It does indeed draw us just at/above/under the surface, which is that exact spot I want to struggle with poetry. Words and meaning at the limnal edge of hope. That is so great that you wrote the exact same line for today. Great minds My problem now is that in eleven days we have to back to being reasonable, and I’m not sure I know what happens when the adrenaline feed turns off.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Poems as water wings… flotation device — this struck me as one of the reasons I write poetry. I’d probably sink to the bottom if I weren’t writing.

    Hoping we will live forever… yes, we all want to grasp onto that belief that writing will afford us immortality in a way. Our words will live on even if we won’t.

    A trove of gems in this treasure box. Superb.

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  4. You invited me here. Fascinating phrases. Fun to take a culturally specific item (water wings) and run with it. But, and I am not too insightful of a man, I did not very much see what you were saying but had flavors — yet I learn more in your comments. thanx

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    1. And as you are quite insightful, interesting that you more experienced the poem as “color” as opposed to the expression of some particular thesis. I guess that is fair.


  5. I like the way you took the quote and made it your own. I think poems make great water wings, especially when you’re drowning in emotion and self-doubt. I love the lines:
    ‘The surface coughing out love
    Hoping to breathe like the air itself
    Our hearts sharked and slippery’.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is beautifully evocative!❤️ I agree, poetry helps us stay afloat.. it’s the air that we breathe.. in a world of chaos and smoke.. it’s a means of expression.. of thoughts and emotions which are otherwise bottled up.. flow upon the page as though a spiritual journey..!❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad you were able to man the lifeboat for this marvel of a poem- fits Harrison’s prompt like waterwings. The allusions are so very good – I feel quite buoyed now

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I am just now realizing that you came back to last year’s poem on this prompt, and rightly so. This remains an amazing poem and as I read it fresh after nearly a year, it is alive all over again but for different reasons. Different things stood out this time and then I read my comment from before and see how much richer your words are now. That is the mark of good poetry. Glad to revisit.

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