Green Hills Literary Lantern



The lake is like a harmless enemy

we’ve circled with our houses,

making sure it can’t escape.

Eyed constantly by decks and windows,

it can do no more than lap the shore

and claim a drunken swimmer

every twenty years or so.

We sip our summer drinks and watch

the sunsets, telling visitors the legend

of the native princess sacrificed out there

by drowning in a simpler time,

the chief, her father, forced to choose

between his daughter’s welfare and the tribe’s.

Barbaric is the word we use

to register our disapproval,

and we try to count the dead fish

floating sideways, shining,

petals of an algae bloom.





John Popielaski has poems recent or forthcoming in The Evansville Review, Mudfish, The Ontario Review and Puerto del Sol. His second poetry collection, A Brief Eureka for the Alchemists of Peace was published by Antrim House Books in September 2005.