The Ellen Jamesian is a Mermaid
By Heather J. Macpherson

Sailing shorthanded, the catboat
swings forth with a mind set on me,
two men all dark summer flesh, caught
up with myth. And I took the bait.

Hook in tongue, like a good fish I
follow the force of tug and reel,
expose myself without fear. Each
calloused fingertip a volume

of words indexed by salt, sop up
the sea from my skin as I flap
steady, rocking the boat I am
speechless: I have no voice to know:

I cleave my own tongue, bleed on deck
as their eyes linger on ever-
green years, my animated fame,
I give myself to no man, no

prince, but swim deep among urchins
and toothless sharks.

Sestina Lot# 41994
By Heather J. Macpherson

Twenty years after my death scene
you’ll post more photos online.
My body: frayed Levi’s and black low-top Chucks, my arm
revealing a medical bracelet and K Records tattoo
reminding me to stay young, but nevermind.
And my Tom Peterson Hong-Kong manufactured watch that went up for auction

on October 5th, 2008, a calendar day for no other auction.
You’ll see the shotgun shells exactly where I left them after my death scene,
laying in a torn paperbag at the crux of my left foot, neatly, but nevermind;
my sneaker tied neatly the way mom taught me. Online
read my note, wrinkled but dry with a perfect deckle edge in red, not black ink like my tattoo.
You can’t read it clear anyway; I used a cheap red pen: I love you, I love you, I love you! My arm:

don’t look. Cover the door? cover your eyes. Keep it sacred my arm.
Close the Tom Moore cigar box, I don’t care if you know, but you don’t need to see those dirty secrets; they auction
those too I’ll bet: the cooker, syringe, cotton swabs, black tar, forearm tattoo,
the cigarette butts, black sunglasses, the potting soil every piece from my death scene.
You can find everything about me online
including my address that doesn’t exist anymore, but nevermind.

22 live 20 gauge shotgun shells, conspire all you want, but nevermind.
Black winter aviator hat, $120 bucks in cash don’t ask me about my arm.
Twenty years later you’ll see pictures of my grown daughter online.
On September 22, 2011, our ‘angry letter to MTV’ went up for auction
they’ll see every piece of your death scene–
a letter I faxed to my crazy wife and a K Records tattoo

They sold my 1953 Martin-D-18 Guitar, now everyone has a K Records tattoo.
“If its illegal to rock and roll than throw my ass in jail,” but nevermind.
Twenty years after my death scene
they still look for evidence of needle marks on my arm,
while a police office poses near my six-legged stool, his smile auction
worthy for the camera while a hunched detective sighs about all the paperwork. Online

is important for some reason. Online
CBS News says another detective holds a “now obsolete 1990’s cell phone” stop asking about my tattoo.
My Mosrite Gospel Mark IV Guitar sold at auction
for $75,000 dollars. I don’t know what my daughter thinks of me, but nevermind
it’s none of your business so leave her alone. Don’t look at my arm.
It’s twenty years after my death scene.

When you look at my death scene, You can buy me dead online.
Don’t worship my arm, my childhood or K Records tattoo.
Commodore Ballroom, but nevermind. Me, in black & white, my daughter, up for auction.

Heather J. Macpherson writes from New England. Her work has appeared in Spillway, OVS, Blueline, Two Hawks Quarterly, Pearl, The Broken Plate and other fine publications. She has twice been features editor for The Worcester Review, and is executive director at Damfino Press. Each of these pieces is a reading response poem; Sestina Lot #41994 was written in response to the Kurt Cobain death scene photographs released two years about by CBS Online. The Ellen Jamesian is a Mermaid is a response to John Irving’s The World According to Garp.