Table of Contents



Bill Hollands



I'm gay and I play tennis. I think
the sculpture Laocoön and His Sons
is kind of hot. In this poem the poet
uses phallic imagery in the form
of a crocodile. When I was young
I would sneak into my older brothers' room
and take things. One of my brothers died
and I still think about him. He won a prize
for a haiku he wrote in high school
but I only remember two lines. I have
a photograph of him and his fiancée
with parrots on their heads. I stole
a pair of his shoes to wear to his funeral.
My husband gave me a painting for Christmas
but it wasn't what I was expecting and
I didn't like it at first but now I do
(metaphor). If things had gone just a little
differently I could easily be alone. I binge-watch
The Office with my son. He likes to eat
a big snack right before bed, just like I did/
do. I have a tattoo and my students
always want to know what it means; I don't
know what it means. I had a moment
of transcendence once, but it didn't
last. The Burmese Python doesn't belong
in Florida (metaphor?). My father was an actor
and a complete mystery to me. Men,
in general, are a complete mystery to me.
I write poetry, but I'm still going to die.




I slot in ridged thigh plates,
rubber knee pads, squeeze
into girdle pants. My turtle head
emerges from the shell. I'm lost
under helmet, mask. What is
exposed? Twig legs, soft
hands. I'm a fake, a decoy,
my job to run away—
but not today. We've practiced
this play so many times, brutal
practices. Hollands, that was
an abortion. On the bus
to the game now we sing
We are the Champions, Another One
Bites the Dust. But you see
I have a secret. I suck moisture
from the mouth guard molded
to my bite, hear my breath's
echo, underwater snorkeler,
as I swim up the field, turn,
the ball, I know, already
on its way. I could fight off
the defender but I've made
my choice: I let my body
go, just slightly, naked
to the eye—I can, after all,
put on a show. But I drop it,
of course, Adam, Ben,
forgive me, I drop it.




There is, of course, the story
about Clarabelle, that big one
they were all so proud of.
The boy's mother sat him up
on the ledge and then
he toppled in and the owner
came out with a rifle
and shot Clarabelle that very night.

I circle to find the biggest one left.
Through a hole in the dense mesh
of gray branches, a series of bumps
fifteen feet long at least
ripples the surface of the pond
dead center. When no one is watching
I drop my chocolate bar in the pit
right down below me. The croc

hesitates just for a moment, then
the long tail sways back and forth
in the water until splayed toes
glide the heavy body up, quick,
onto the grass and through the mesh,
crossing over to me, where it stabs
the chocolate bar in its snout,
awkwardly, and jiggles it down.

Delighted screams of school children
come through me from
the King Cobra Show
going on inside. And it
gazes up at me with sad eyes
wanting more, I suppose,
as if I might think
they didn't feed very well here.

Its scaly skin is like a coat of barnacles
stuck to an old log. A layer
of shingled tiles runs along its back.
It smells of musk and it's green
all over, dark olive green and thick,
like if you sliced right through the hide
and into its middle, it would all be,
all of it, green and hard. I stare it down

until it turns around and drags its fat body
along the ground, the way you think
it should move all the time. It settles back down
into the pond. Someone brushes my shoulder
and says Time to go home, babe. And all I can see
when I turn around are my lover's
three moles through a thin, dark beard,
his hard little eyes, all that green.