They gaffed grampa Piekarski
from the mucky Mississippi,
his head all but gnawed away
by curious carp, the torso
swelled beyond recognition.
Back in the 1930’s,
claimed decrepit uncle Stan,
big cement sewer lines
dumped raw sewage constantly
into the fast river.
How carp gobbled the stuff!
Those days there was logging
on the Minneapolis Mississippi.
Bullish locomotives the lifeline
of bustling flour mills and breweries.
Then there was grampa
lingering along the riverfront.
Grampa adept at
butchering chickens and rabbits
he raised,
who spoke no English
and was universally known
as ignorant, illiterate,

immigrant drunk. 


Within earshot her exposed brassiere                                              

clenched The Brasserie. He kept quiet                                             

about the whole incident

to conceal her objective:


way back in the Triassic age

multitudes of creatures

trampled Earth. And then

came the great extinction—

all but a few stout species

annihilated by a meteor

or mammoth volcanism.


According to paleontologists’

acute phrenology, systematic analysis

attests that crocodiles abounded

thereafter, alphabets of the ancestors



And then Emerson went and said

“The poets made all the words.”


Thus ravenous croc poets

forged  raw linguistics

but eventually

their enigmatic idioms


words that once conveyed

vivid living tropes become

obscure etymology.


Painstaking if not impossible

to determine which specific traits

allowed millions of swarming crocodiles

to thrive in a world of swamps,

overflowing rivers and boiling oceans,


the words they employed now absent

their poetic origin, ineffable, dead.

The Hoax


“It was all a big hoax,

the moon landing,” insisted

the sexy Mexican saleslady.

“Same as 9/11,

totally trumped up

government publicity stunt.”


To which the wily salesman

impulsively retorted—“that’s bull!

I remember it distinctly

as I was high on mescaline

that very day, driving my dad’s

luxurious Olds 98 down 101

at 80 miles an hour

with bald tires and bad brakes,

listening on AM radio to details

of the landing, the astronauts’

broadcasts back to Earth.”


“Ridiculous!” she chirped,

“like the holocaust,

it didn’t happen.”


“I know that what I

thought I perceived

derailed me” he replied,

“and one prime factor

I didn’t recognize until too late,

the light standard I took out

skidding and fishtailing

in the rain—I crashed with

an enormormous thundering crash

across hood and windshield,

totaling the car.”


Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His theater and restaurant reviews have been published in various newspapers, with poetry and interviews appearing in numerous national journals, among them Portland Review, Main Street Rag, Kestrel, Scarlet Literary Magazine, Cream City Review, Nimrod, Penny Ante Feud, New Plains Review, Poetry Quarterly, The Muse-an International Journal of Poetry, and Clockhouse Review. He has published a travel guide, Best Choices In Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems. He lives in Marina, California.