1. The Green Man

    rumdumb from last night’s shrubbery tryst
    exhales soot, fernseed, shoots and vines,
    brings his hot breath from the city park’s wood,
    saying a song we don’t understand
    through the briar and bay leaves of his beard.
    And in Philadelphia, 1954,
    out of late autumn’s darkening he came,
    a junkman lugging a Penn Fruit cart,
    straw bristling his face, crying a name.
    Or from manholes in other cities,
    his holographic ectoplasm greets us
    when traffic lights turn green.
    Uncover and there he is, membranous
    Caliban alone with sewer rats,
    or stumblebum Puck, unnameable solids
    crusting nails and toes, bringing us his dark.
    Or our neighborhood’s soused John-John,
    cobra down-at-heel boots skidding
    at my feet among the maddening jasmine,
    when I grab too late to save him growls:
    “I can save you darling pigs.
    Behold, behold, and maybe I’ll help.”

    By W. S. Di Piero.

  2. Fishing on the Susquehanna in July

    I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
    or on any river for that matter
    to be perfectly honest.

    Not in July or any month
    have I had the pleasure—if it is a pleasure—
    of fishing on the Susquehanna.

    I am more likely to be found
    in a quiet room like this one—
    a painting of a woman on the wall,

    a bowl of tangerines on the table—
    trying to manufacture the sensation
    of fishing on the Susquehanna.

    There is little doubt
    that others have been fishing
    on the Susquehanna,

    rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
    sliding the oars under the water
    then raising them to drip in the light.

    But the nearest I have ever come to
    fishing on the Susquehanna
    was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia

    when I balanced a little egg of time
    in front of a painting
    in which that river curled around a bend

    under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
    dense trees along the banks,
    and a fellow with a red bandanna

    sitting in a small, green
    flat-bottom boat
    holding the thin whip of a pole.

    That is something I am unlikely
    ever to do, I remember
    saying to myself and the person next to me.

    Then I blinked and moved on
    to other American scenes
    of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

    even one of a brown hare
    who seemed so wired with alertness
    I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

    By Billy Collins