A Dozen Poems (I Mean Pelicans) Flew over My House Shouting Seaton (I Mean Sea) Stories

Since I’d never seen pelicans in flight, and only in photos, pouches ballooning with bluefish, I was unprepared the first time I saw a dozen of them glide in formation along the coast like pterodactyls or superheroes. It was my first trip to Florida, and shorebirds were nothing but seagulls to me then, foraging along the Hudson where I sat evenings until rats came out chirping. All this hoopla about the “I” in poems boring readers (the smart ones) (I’m told) to death. Someone’s irked that I write about my world and get away with it. (I’m not sure what I mean.) I’ve lived in an efficiency for years now with a mate whose night terrors are so loud the dog and I huddle like orphans. My neighborhood borders the Atlantic, it’s true, and many have come here to die in brine, oldsters cocktailing together, trembling the next day, sheepish and sunburned as folks stuck in the same lifeboat. Still, I like my neighbors with their end-of-the-line mentality—they feel real to me, sucking sea air and rum—and I drive to work on a highway that keeps me on my toes, and I get to see brown pelicans and uncover coral and sea beans along the surf. If I’m lonely, with my salty neighbors and my traumatized mate who sings through the day as if she hadn’t been murdered in her sleep, it’s the kind of lonely the sea takes the edge off. Like going barefoot in wet sand until your feet glow. Or walking to the end of the jetty and standing with the pelicans, loving the warm sea back.

 
 

                Self-portrait with Avocado
 
                A vortex opens inside you,
                sucks Florida right into you.
 
                Sharks surround you
                in your implausible bikini.
 
                You sit beside a man
                whose plate holds the offal
 
                of ripe fruit. Avocados
                fall like big and little bombs.
 
                Your head spins, green
                with guacamole.

 
 
MAUREEN SEATON’s new and selected, Fibonacci Batman, is out from Carnegie Mellon University Press (2013) She is the author of numerous poetry collections, both solo and collaborative, and a memoir, Sex Talks to Girls (University of Wisconsin Press). Her awards include the Iowa Prize, Lambda Literary Award, Audre Lorde Award, NEA fellowship, and the Pushcart. Seaton teaches poetry at the University of Miami, Florida.