Backyard Pools

Larenz Brown
Oct 18, 2019 · 3 min read

A man decides to live adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean

in the crater of tragedy/loss

by way of an ancient predator.

He builds a saltwater pool by hand behind his home

and connects it to the open waves with a channel about 8 feet deep.

He fills it with buckets of chum/he stirs the chum in with the largest garden rake

he could ever find while also saving big money at Menards

and he tries new recipes every Wednesday

/some Fridays depending on the temperatures of the week.

Sometimes he chums and swims because movement and meat

might be the difference in arranging a meeting with someone special.

The water is painfully anonymous

/muddied by blood.When he swims,

he thinks of being turned inside-out.

What a strange thing to welcome/

what a routine to make your own.

And it continues for months.

TV made it seem like it wouldn’t take so long.

He hadn’t thought of what it would mean to chum

every day and swim

every day for again and again and again (fuck).

The employees at the convenience store down the street

grew familiar with him/

grew folktales about his life in a backyard imagination.

He buys two boxes of Q-tips every week to keep

remains from his canals/he fills a shopping cart

with eucalyptus-scented hand sanitizer

about once a month.

On every third Monday he walks in

at nine-thirty in the morning

to buy ten toothbrushes/

ten boxes of dental floss/

and every bottle of purple mouthwash in the aisle.

His focus was like eating after a really long time

of not eating. He refused to give

way. The dead fish gave him rash

and infected him a couple layers outside the spirit/

a few layers beneath the skin

like in the back of the knee

like in the webbing between the fingers.

He questioned himself once

(but only once) in the third week of a

bad month. The swell tossed bottles into the pool

and he sat at the edge of the water submerged to the space

just above the shins and thought about soda from a plastic/

thought of someone so sweet.

The things that rot your teeth out

you cannot give to yourself.

A sandpaper glance across the sole of his right foot

snaps him back.

He dives into the water punching up

and also out/

and also down.

And touches nothing.

He decides then and there

to never think that hard again/

to never make wishes that can see

what he is.

But the next day has yield.

He watches the fin slide into his channel

from where it met the sea.

He wonders what it’s like to be

both cold-blooded and curious.

He stands the tallest he ever has before.

And he holds his breath without trying

and he slows his electrical signaling

down to static

as the shape approaches the side

of the pool that runs parallel

to the back wall of his home.

It is huge (that’s what she said)

he laughs to himself

even as what is notoriously

absent has found a way to


He thinks/writes

a note to that bottle-shaped someone

claimed by tragedy/loss

and an ancient predator.

It’s one part apology, one part defiant assertion

of the law of equivalent exchange.

The fin glides through

the space just beneath the shins

and he dives

guided by his fists/

hoping to taste as sweet as dessert/

excited to see her again.

Written by

New York, NY

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