Green Hills Literary Lantern

Thanks to My New Aquarium Light


When thunder wakes me, I believe

I’m looking out a window

of the Nautilus. Or maybe it’s aquatic


soccer on TV: neon tetras

versus tangerine sword-tails.

Or a soap-opera: guarami kisses


the striped danio, the jilted

clown loach sues for custody

of the plecostemus, while the glass


mermaid, tail flicking pink

gravel, beckons me inside her

sunken ship for some wave-making


away from Davey Jones’ spy-

glassing eyes. Stare long

enough, though, I re-enter the time


when, finned and gilled, I floated

in the womb’s aquarium,

and before that, the primal sea,


its salty broth hungry for life

when lightning’s forked hand stabbed down.




Charles Harper Webb’s Hot Popsicles was published in 2005 as part of the University of Wisconsin Press Poetry Series. His collection Amplified Dog won the Benjamin Saltman Award from Red Hen Press, and will be published in 2006. Recipient of grants from the Whiting and Guggenheim foundations, Webb directs the MFA program at California State University, Long Beach.