Two Poems

Baker’s Pick
J.R. Salling

The Somnambulant Fish

On my insignificant island
the beach delivers crimes for which
there are no answers.

They disturb me like scars
in their anonymity,
the way they conceal old wounds
in their mouths.

Often my eyes put me on a leash.
They tie me to a clump of palms
where the hours sour and rot
until I snatch away the opera mask
from a suppurating sea.

The subconscious beast thus exposed,
briny scales glitter at my feet.


The Reunion

Using 8mm films from the war
we select the brown smiling faces
of infant soldiers, bare chested
and beer guzzling,
who relax on a playground of clay
between their field gun
and a distant fence of jungle.

With each subject
the cog slips to permit focus
until the frame yellows and blisters
like something turned inside out,
or aged prematurely.

Then the film breaks.
All is white and quiet
except for the cackling of celluloid
and the weak farts of old men.

J.R. Salling is an antiquarian book dealer, who specializes in the history of science and medicine. E-mail: sallinigenovese[at]

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