Jimmy Pappas – three poems

Adjusting for Aberrancy

Fire an arrow at a bull’s eye. Adjust for wind speed,
gravity, distance from the target, weight of the arrow.

Look at a star through a telescope. Consider the atmosphere,
temperature, humidity, human miscalculations, faulty scopes.

Shoot a bullet at the target of a man. Make adjustments
to hit the red heart printed on the center of his chest.

Speak a word. Gauge the sensitivity of the hearer, the anger
of the speaker, the multiple meanings of the spoken word.


The Boy Tried to Walk

The boy tried to walk
down the path where the men walked
but the men moved too fast.

The boy tried to talk
at a table where the men talked
but the men did not notice.

The boy tried to call
to the men who stood above him
but the men could not hear.

When the boy died,
he traveled on the shoulders
of the men who carried him.

He lay quietly
and listened to the men
who spoke about him.

They said, Isn’t
it terrible
about the boy.

But they walked
and talked
and did not hear.


How to Achieve Immortality

Curry the favor of the gods.

Never feed the gods their own children
for supper. They are sensitive about that.
You have probably already swallowed
yours whole, except, of course, for the one
who tricked you with the boulder wrapped
in a blanket. He’s the one throwing
thunder bolts at you and trying to bury
you alive. Keep thinking it’s not your fault.

Twins are very popular with the gods.
If you don’t have one, find someone
who looks like you. Follow that person
like a doppelganger, haunting their days.
Leave their nights alone. Others will take
care of that. You will need your sleep.

Fall in love with a statue or a painting.
The gods have a sick sense of sexuality.
Chose one that shows your impeccable
taste in art. Make no effort to hump
the statue. That may be taking it too far.

The gods find animal sacrifices appealing.
Goats are especially popular. You can eat
the meat. Leave them the bones and the skin.
Prometheus’s liver is being eaten by an eagle,
as we speak, for sticking his neck out for you,
so take advantage of this deal.

The calendar will be rearranged
to fit you in somewhere between
Pisces and Sagittarius, both of which
have lost their usefulness.

If you win the approval of the gods,
they will turn you into a constellation.
The sky could use another crustacean.
Perhaps this time it will be a spiny-
tailed lobster. You can click your claws
as you scuttle across the Milky Way.
The Crab will envy your glory.


Jimmy Pappas served during the Vietnam War as an English language instructor training South Vietnamese soldiers. Jimmy received an MA in English literature from Rivier University. He is a retired teacher whose poems have been published in many journals, including Yellowchair Review, Shot Glass Journal, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, and War, Literature and the Arts. He is a member of the Executive Board of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire. (jimmypappas@goodreads.com)

Advertisements