Troy Jollimore

The Recognizable |  Poem Beginning with a Line by C. Dale Young
July 20, 2012 Jollimore Troy

The Recognizable


Like when an irresistible force

meets an immovable object,

or when an unreadable book is made

into an unwatchable movie.

Snark can only get you

so far in this life,

but it’s far enough

that when you get there you’ll find

nothing but a gift shop

from a children’s story

that was closed years ago,

and a flimsy ferry, really

not much more than

a birch bark canoe, that makes trips

to the mainland once a week.

Except when the weather

is bad. And the weather,

like the news and the economy,

is always bad.


I like sheep, but their appearance

in a story is usually

a harbinger of something

unpleasant, especially

when the story has

an alienated urban

setting, for instance,

the parking lot

of a customer service

call center. I promised

myself I wouldn’t.

I gave all my change

to the man with the scythe.

I carried a basket

of longing from town

to town, telling everyone

it was darkness, and no,

no you bastards, I won’t let you look

and see for yourselves.



 Poem Beginning with a Line by C. Dale Young Poem Beginning with a Line by C. Dale Young


In Redwood City I felt absolutely nothing:

not the future’s fear of the past, not the sad prince’s

indefatigable wish to be thrust

from power and left at the mercy of those

no more merciful than he, not the longing

for solace of the man so lazy

he couldn’t be bothered to cast a shadow.

The man who slept underneath five layers

of jet lag. When he and his friend

would pretend to be generals they were so convincing

that millions died. The very word

‘singularity’ made us think there would be

just one—boy, were we wrong about that,

spectacularly wrong, wrong like canasta

in orbit, like wrong like enjoying fellatio

on Super Tuesday. When the highway police

caught up with us, there were flowers in our hair

and flour on our faces, and the trunk full of blackberry

muffins looked highly suspicious at best.

Our lawyer absconded for Sausalito

with actuarial zeal, leaving us

high and dry—well, actually, soaked and low,

for all the good that did us. I used

my one phone call to contact my credit

card company, knowing that they would put me

on hold for days,  ‘til the justice system

changed hands and I could go free.

And that’s how I came to be here, stretched out

like a dog in this lawn-chair, sipping margaritas

and watching the barbers play beach volleyball

as the waves roll in and the sea gasps, over

and over, unceasingly astonished. The side

of the sky that I like is the one that faces

away from us. The lithe and beautiful

girl with her naughty blonde hair whose bikini

once frequented this sunlight-stained stretch of sand

vanished decades ago, but her tan lingers still.

Troy Jollimore’s books of poetry are Syllabus of Errors, At Lake Scugog, and Tom Thomson in Purgatory, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry in 2006.