Two Poems by Jake Sheff

A Neutral Knife

A sheepdog was loose on the streets
of Zürich. We climbed the clock tower
of St. Peter’s church and saw it run by

a fashion shoot near Münsterbrücke.
The lake reflected the sun like an
inverted clock tower for the underworld

or the heavens’ bank account. Only
thirty minutes later, the sun gave
the city a malar rash, like your sister’s

lupus. At Cabaret Voltaire, I played
footsie with the birth of Dadaism; you
taught our Dutch companion to say

“malarkey.” Later on, at the hostel, I
walked in on her about to use the bath
and left for Copenhagen; the sex museum

and Little Mermaid out of water. She
must have been the most copied
statue in the world, like Aphrodite;
another version of the Swiss Army.




Beneath promiscuous stars –
a sky with more blue periods than
the rain – the tapas
of tilapia and sole
beckon the spring breakers.
The rats in the alley are inquisitive.

The next day a Semana Santa
procession moves along the narrow
cobblestone gothic quarter
like shadows in the daylong sun.
The shades of siesta persist
in a midnight and crimson slant.

A flamenco in the sonnet-like
dusk gives us all the belladonna
blues. The Sagrada Familia
towers over the sidewalk and passersby
like a birthday cake, telling you,
“It’s easier to keep up with the past.”

The day after the pub crawl,
drinking espresso and cheap wine
like chimps, we walk
at Park Güell and talk about
Madrid among the flaming bells
of spring, the calamity of caladium.



JAKE SHEFF is a major and pediatrician in the US Air Force. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Cossack Review, Crab Orchard Review, Radius and elsewhere. Jake won first place in the 2017 Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (FSPA) speculative poetry contest. His chapbook, Looting Versailles, was published by Alabaster Leaves in 2013. You can find out more on his blog and follow him on Twitter @Jake_Sheff.


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