By Robert Kuttner
I’ve often wondered
How the summer of ’39 felt
People savoring ordinary joys
The dread of doom just over the hill
Or the summer of 1914
When the short easy war
Turned long and ugly
Destroying a civilization
I have some sense now
Coming out on the Provincetown ferry
The salt air bracing as ever
The cafés and street life just as gay
Endless sand beaches, seals cavorting
Small children on the deck
To greet family on the dock
Imagine a white truck
Mowing mayhem down Commercial Street
Imagine a shooter with an A-5
Spraying cross-dressers and tourists
Imagine no more stripers
Ballston Beach eroding to nothing
This fine summer
All is just as before
The fish, the beach, the bars
The miracle of P’town
The same slow sunsets
To embrace with joy
And without illusion
As we resist the abyss.
Consider the Horseshoe Crab
By Rebecca Okrent
Actually, not a crab, but of the Chelicerata class with undersides
ruffled like pages and sword-like tails called telsons used, sometimes
successfully, to flip themselves over when they’re wrong-side up.
There is hardly an obstacle they can overcome; yet they’ve witnessed
eons passing, riding colliding continents in the Cenozoic era
long before we were a glimmer in god’s eye.
Their springtime congresses, construed as battered helmets strewn
across a battlefield, speak instead of endurance, a magisterial longevity
that trenches and tanks don’t signify.
Vulnerable as prank fodder, eel bait, and pharmacological commodity —
their blue blood used to signal traces of bacteria — these ancients might
one day supply detection of life forms in outermost space.
In the here and now they make untroubled progress over the sands
and keep their secrets.
Imagine such a history for humans, such purposeful
plodding over this benevolent, unsympathetic Earth.
[From Boys of My Youth, published by Four Way Books, 2015]
This week, the Independent inaugurates a new regular feature devoted to poetry. It is edited by Becky Okrent and Bob Kuttner, who will read submissions and select the poems to be published here.
Submit poems to [email protected]. Include your full name, complete home address, and a telephone number where you can be reached. If the poem has appeared elsewhere, supply complete information about any previous publication with permission from the publisher if necessary. The editors will let you know if your poem has been accepted.
We look forward to hearing from the many accomplished poets in our community. Preference will be given to writers who live on the Outer Cape for all or part of the year, but submissions are welcome from all readers.