Thorpe Moeckel


If as baby’s bibs on the four old growth
NFL linemen in my raft, the lifejackets
were like bloated articles of faith
on the Baptist youth group
who’d fifteen-passengered up
from Pascagoula all night singing
Our God is an awesome God
he reigns from heaven above.

And if there was something of Houdini
in how the edgy, rose-nosed folks
from the strip joint wore them,
the executive looked as though
he’d cinched one on for years,
bound and so buoyant above
the depths, he couldn’t see
to swim. For the grocer from Greenville
with a pill bottle of nitroglycerine
duct-taped to his guide’s river shorts,
it was a straitjacket clamming
his courage like a fist, and, yes, from
the start the perfumists were aghast
at the stench – mildew, sweat-soup –
and discussed how to distill it, render
a base. But I tell you nobody wore
that Type Five P.F.D. as stylishly
as the pecan farmer, thumbs tucked
to arm-slits as though anything
he wore would be comfortable
since tropical winds leveled his farm
last August. What did Hurricane Hugo
say to the pecan tree
, he asked the crew,
voice like leaves raised from the ground
by a gust, then settling. You better
hold on to your nuts
, he said.
This ain’t goin be no ordinary blowjob.

Thorpe Moeckel
Lifejackets is reprinted from Making a Map of the River (Iris Press 2008).