Alligator #357

The ground beneath
the jungle gym
teems with alligators,

snakes, swamp creatures,
all out to get you.

If not alligators, then
molten lava spanned only
by your child-like ninja

skills and the rickety
expanse of wooden bridges

which cross your imagination
making solid the pathway
between too many dreams.

And on your 13th birthday
you suddenly think of

your grandfather’s death
from three years before—
the hallway light creeping

beneath your bedroom
door that opens slowly,

your mother’s cool
hand on your forehead,
the sound of her slippers

as she shuffles away—
and realize hanging

upside down from the monkey
bars that today is your birthday
and that someday the friend

hanging beside you, belly
bared by gravity, will grow up

and no longer be your friend,
that someday, your mother, too, will die,
and those shuffling slippered

feet and that soft
voice in the darkness

will be your own

and that no amount of
love in your life
will stop that slow

march of time. The lava

will flow. You flip
from your perch,
fall on the grass, and run.


Melissa J. Varnavas is a poet, journalist, and editor living in Beverly, Massachusetts. A graduate of the Solstice MFA program at Pine Manor College, her work has appeared in the literary journals in Oberon, End Times, Blast Furnace, Margie, The New Guard, and elsewhere.

Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, writer, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in the USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum,The Albright-Knox Art Gallery & The Allen Memorial Art Museum. Since 2006 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 230 on line and print magazines. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Creative Artists Public Service Grant (CAPS), two Pollock-Krasner grants, two Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grants and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fellowship Inc. in 2017 & 2018 he received the Brooklyn Arts Council SU-CASA artist-in-residence grant.