James O’Malley, suit-and-tied
even by a white sand beach,
sat well-starched with phone surfside,
shooting cuffs (the world in reach)
calling clients each by each
punching buttons with aplomb
stuffing voice-mails with stiff speech.
Alas, they none of them were home:
they spied his number and preferred
a root canal or broken thumbs
to more whereases and whereofs
or pendent clauses framed by “such”
and laid their bright devices down,
spooning up crème fraiche with peach.
Along the shore then came a Fool
with tangled hair and lurching gait
who gestured with unfocused gaze
(drunk or crazed could not be told)
and looked upon O’Malley’s face
then squatted there and dropped a turd
and grinned disjointedly; and bowed,
and went his way. Leaving poor James
agape at blasted rules: displeased
at that disorderly brief phase.
Uneasy who was properly the fool.
Uncertain if he heard
(or if he could) faint birdsong
from a distant golden wood.
The Federal Poet, Vol. LXXIV No. 2 (Fall 2016); reprinted in Man Overboard (2018)