Two Poems by Michael Waters

Good Riddance Chicken

My wife still cooks some meals
Using my ex-girlfriend’s recipes,
Their familiar cursive once thrilling
In those years of exchanging letters
With their catalogs of arousal, divulging
Where we would taste each other
On those weekends we managed to erase
The distance between her home and mine.
Maryland-Connecticut. I-95. Driving
Through downpour or snow, blasting
Cranberries or Counting Crows.
She prepared exquisite meals,
Artichoke Heart Soufflé or
Bass Fillets Poached with Fennel
For my midnight arrival,
Coddled eggs with shallots
For breakfast, then mailed the recipes
So that I might in her absence recreate
Each savory morsel.

Now my wife
Revises each directive, shunning
Grapes but adding orange wheels
Or switching shiitake for wild chanterelle,
Purring with Rihanna on the radio,
Crossing out the name of each dish
At the top of the creased index card
To substitute one of her own invention,
But growing quiet when she reads, again,
Looped at the bottom of her favorite recipe,
The one for Chilled Roquefort Chicken,
“Always better when you add my company.”

Luke 23:41

Asbury Park / Ocean Grove, NJ

After hours, both signs read Lifeguards Off Duty,
But one beach insists No Swimming
While the other shrugs Swim at Your Own Risk.
That beach flaunts three tall crosses upright in sand.
Last summer I watched two dolphins
Arc lazily past one beach toward the other
While lifeguards whistled swimmers from the water.
One great brown triangular fin trailed those dolphins
Who swam at their own risk
Beyond crosses tossing shadows on bathers.
Where I swim I choose shark, preferring
The geometries of this world
To the wavering shadows of the next.
Let salt winnow what is false in me
Where creatures cruise dim shallows.
Let me test my luck
Outside the gloom of wood
On which one impenitent thief mocked salvation
While the other swerved
In the wisdom of suffering and understood
We are punished justly,
For we receive what our deeds deserve.