On Getting a Tattoo
I’m not sure when
I actually knew my
Opinions stable and
straight as hundred-year
Experience the key,
choosing the right lock in a
door with four.
learning a foreign
How can nouns
have sex? How can
Our differences all loop
back to shared red
The old joke, marriage
sure, but a tattoo is
words on her 28 year
How will it read
when the decades
So not yet, arms
uninked. 30’s pass and
two blond girls.
Dad, a good example
“If you get one
they will too.” So,
Years unfurl, kids
in college. Example?
Raised right, they’ve
now shed parental
Example be damned,
decade seven is mine,
interior now inked. A
heart built of breaking
Cobalt fading to pearl,
ringed by Barbara, Rachel,
A permanent reminder—life
tosses us to and fro. Strong
arms are there to catch us.
Poetry On The Listserve
The email read, “but how is this a poem?”
referring to my love child, the weekly
poetry post on our neighborhood
“It has no real imagery, no metaphors, just
prose broken up into clauses”—all of this
after sending him the link to What Is
He was right of course, and I paused to
look outside and watch the winter sky
peel off its blue jeans and put on salmon
I replied “I suppose a poem is anything
the author and just one reader agree upon”
The Minute I Realized I Was Old
came when smoothing out
wrinkles from the prior life
of a twelve by fifteen inch
rectangle of aluminum
foil. Now a small metallic
square reflecting our
I bury it in the wrapper
drawer, where it will
with its plastic cousins.
my neurons still fire,
poked by the digits
of two skim lattes.
the ebony arms of
sleep just off my chest.
While thoughts careen,
coyote, and scents of
sage and eucalyptus,
help guide me to the dawn.
Gary Grossman is a Professor of Animal Ecology at the University of Georgia. His poems have appeared in 21 reviews, most recently -- Verse-Virtual, Poetry Life and Times, Black Poppy Review, Trouvaille Review and Last Stanza Poetry Review. For ten years he wrote the “Ask Dr. Trout” column for American Angler magazine. Hobbies include running, music, fishing, gardening and cooking. Website www.garygrossman.net
Cleaning Out My Office After Four Decades
My wife retired last September,
three months emptying her
office that held twenty-five years.
So I multiplied 3 months X
1.6 yielding “get your ass
in gear.” Now seven months before
departure, I’m in inventory
mode to disperse my academic
detritus, scientific journals,
paper reprints, even binder clips.
My faux oak desk chocked full
of professorial ephemera,
only to find that nobody wants
my shit. Science--relocated
to the metaverse, ones and zeros
the new alphabet, displacing
words on sleek, high-clay paper.
Reprints? What are those? Tears roll
as each glossy article flutters into
the grey recycling bin, and
these leaves from my colleagues’
hearts and minds crumple together.
Many are inscribed “To Gary with
best wishes,” and I reflux
a teaspoon of regret while asking
Darwin for absolution. Our kind
custodian has moved the bin
into my office. A green walled,
windowed monk’s cell, still retaining
wisps of student’s grades and dreams.
But after today’s discard session,
only thirty-two years of academic
life remain, books and the small smells
of computer paper and printer ink,
and the thrum of my desktop computer.
Desktop computer? Who owns such
a dinosaur? Today’s world is all
about laptops, tablets and smart phones.
Bluetooth reigns, and brain implants are
the next rung on evolution’s ladder.
My office is a large living
space, and many times I have
shut the lights, locked the door,
and lay down on the tight curls of
nylon carpet. My eyes close, breath
and pulse ease. Silently, I repeat
“hypnosis helps me help myself”.
Five reps later my jaws unclench as
I drift, conjuring a boyhood stream
and trout, as the stress--ants emerge
from my muscles, and march out my
feet like SS troopers. My mental
images of inept deans and deluded
colleagues: worn old pieces of
graphite, not diamonds from Tiffanys,
despite their peacock struts in the hall.
My office, my peace island. Sink
dorm fridge, cans of tinned herring
and smoked trout, a white coffee cup
holds forks and spoons, and rests
next to electric kettle and French
press coffee pot. All will move to the
women’s shelter thrift store as will
books on herpetology, animal
behavior and fish population
dynamics. Some will go to my last
two graduate students, strong youths
swimming upstream into the rapid and
complex currents of academe.
teaching, grants and research. The
family photos and award plaques
return home, as will the stained glass
fish hanging in my three windows.
(Recognition brings windows,
plaques, and jealousy.). Each
bejeweled fish represents
a decade of study and enough
published pages to feed both the
ego and front yard winter fire
pit, sitting on iced rye grass.
But is there a mold to recast
my body anew--right arm to
poetry, left to sculpture, legs
to jogging, chest to gardening and
fishing? Forty years–fifty-two
percent of a modern life. My
friends say “you’ll love the freedom,
all your hobbies…” They know me well.
But when I still myself and listen
closely, I hear the soft grrrrrrs
of the Black Dog just outside my door.