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Summer/Fall 2020

Atlantic Beach Shallows

Forrest Rapier

One afternoon outside Singleton’s seafood
shack, my mother said, “I’m not going to sit here

      and blindly connect the sky.” Why the hell

on earth not! What little time we have on this dime-
sized blip of kush and fish—Christ—I’m all-about
      mis-communicating everything I’ve misinterpreted.

Quite a few times, I’ve believed the shrimp would hum my blood-
name to call me home while the Coast Guard searched the Atlantic
      Beach shallows with spotlights for cocaine packages

floated-off from a sunken Cuban speedboat.
It’s true: I am the spitting image of my fathermark,
      his wayward firstborn son, walking across

the Matthews Bridge over the Saint John’s
River on my way to see a Jaguar’s loss. Why would fate
      divine the majority of my flea-sized attention-span

to a failed football franchise?—to the next tropical storm
surf or a field in Tennessee? More than ever, I want to radiate
      positivity all-the-way past NASA to the thermosphere

so the Russian cosmonauts can see me monkey around.
I’ve witnessed a fresh-from-slumber muzzled-leopard
      waltz into a showroom on a leash afore the school-

child roars. Sedated Apex-predator of the ancient
world, did you know your mother’s yowl from every
      other river sound? Where will you roam

uncaged in the wilderness of heck? When I was
an impressionable minion, a model for Hieronymus
      Bosch’s demons dancing in my triptych-brainpan,

I snuck into the Jacksonville Zoo’s big cat
habitat and found a warm place to snug
      where no one could say I was stranger

than every toothy beast around me.

[Check out Forrest Rapier's back porch interview]