Honorable Mention 2010 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $100
About this Christian Poet:
After stints as a carnival worker, waitress, missionary and librarian, Jenna is returning to her desk to pursue a career in words. Though she also freelances and writes fiction, poetry has always been her first love. Her work has been published by Utmost Christian Writers, The Cry, and others.
About this Poem:
The character of Bartolo came to me on long bus rides through the city of Rio de Janeiro. My scribbled notes on the sights—a neon sign for a mental hospital, old men throwing tattered fishing nets on the beach, the shady characters inhabiting underpasses and dark corners—conjured up an unlikely protagonist. A slightly mad ex-seaman, Bartolo's mind blurs the bounds of reality and fantasy, memory and present.
Bartolo No. 2
Bartolo is translating the recipe books.
He is tired of eating mashed potatoes and chitlins,
remembers something about hardtack and foie gras
that he believes can be reproduced
for the dry land or the sea.
He's altering the quantities of salt water
on the off chance no one will be taking him to deep oceans
before the tide turns
and everyone knows
the genies in fresh water differ
from the mermaids of the Indian sea.
Bartolo saw one once, her fins blue-green,
sucking down algae. Breasts like lemon drops
and scurvy arms threaded with gills.
She tried to sing to him
but he stuffed his ears full of pitch and tar,
said three prayers in Latin
(dominus dominus salve),
and drew in the nets,
surprised to find them
empty but for
a fish with lips like his first wife's.
He kissed it in gratitude
then flayed, filleted
and roasted it,
ate all but the eyes and tossed the bones to the waves and watched
as a wiry hand reached out towards
the skeleton skimming on the wind.
It gave him a stomachache,
much like the wife,
and he regretted
having left the eyes in.
Bartolo now stays far
from creatures of the maritime world.
Likes things he can keep an eye on
Potatoes have eyes
and they stare back at him with evil intent.
He would prefer to keep them above ground,
where he can see them.
Copyright ©2010 by Jenna Pashley