Blue Whale of Catoosa
A few years past pearl and a year short of coral;
there’s no traditional gift
for a 34th wedding anniversary.
One retired zookeeper crafted an 80-foot-long blue whale
from concrete and pipe for his wife
who collected miniature whale figurines.
Old Blue still swims in a little pond off Route 66:
slide spouting from his side,
diving platform perched on his raised tail,
jaunty little baseball cap.
Whales are the grand pooh-bahs
of planet earth. Tongues as heavy as elephants,
blood vessels so wide
you could backstroke through them.
Old Blue’s massive open-mouth smile
welcomes visitors inside. Children’s laughter echoes
from all eighteen porthole windows.
Whales’ resonances can rival jet engines
and have continued to amplify as grunts of maritime
traffic and groans of glacial melting
block calls from reaching would-be lovers.
Divers report feeling these songs
more than hearing them. And isn’t that the sure sign
of a successful gesture of love?
Not a thing smuggled from the bottom
of the sea but a bellow loud enough to attract attention
across the ocean, the Mother Road.
Still, whales don’t mate for life,
or even for gestation and no matter how grand,
a one-night stand won’t satisfy
voracious human standards for true love.
Daily intimacies sustain us, gobbled up like six tons
of krill. 34 years of morning coffee,
knowing just how much creamer. No need for words.
Jolly Green Giant
Orphaned by his parent company
but beloved by his adopted town – Minnesota Daily
On the final day of Blue Earth’s Giant Days festival,
children follow size 78 lima-bean-green
footprints downtown for a mid-summer parade.
The 55ft gardener, resplendent in his verdant tunic,
models, as always, atop his 8ft base with staircase.
Summer vacationers pose for pictures between his legs.
We wish for children to believe in the delicate magic
that rarely breeches our own somber flowerbeds,
having traded the security of frayed blankets
for the predictability of reason and logic.
Vehicles heading to Yellowstone and the Black Hills
are coaxed from strict velocities, yielding
to back-seat appeals and driver curiosities.
Children are our best excuse to make bad time,
bow to the unbeatable clock--a logical reason
to pull off the highway in pursuit
of a fiberglass goliath, grinning above the tree line.
On Giant’s Eve, parents stay up late with quarts
of weatherproof paint, custodians of wonder,
sowers of seeds, again and again, heartened by the sprouts.
Lady’s Leg Sundial
The founder of the of Sun Aura Nudist Resort
argued in a Northern Indiana court that the constitution
doesn’t decree citizens must wear clothes:
My Country Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty.
The subsequent owner erected a 63ft high-kicking lady’s leg
properly angled to cast punctual shade
upon a red, white, and blue pedestal.
Convenient for the wristwatchless naturalist.
Spectators are welcome to gawk at the plexiglass
and plywood Rockette-style sundial.
The rest of the 300 forested acers
(including the heart-shaped lake) are Members Only.
There’s something exact about submerging
in the element of the world, embracing your whole
body as both instrument and ornament,
playing cribbage and pickleball without constraint.
Around Saint Patty’s, Sun Aura officially kicks
their season off with an Erin-Go-Braless mixer.
In preparation, colonists repaint the sundial’s slender gam
fully exposed to the warmth of mid-day sun.
Fried chicken, collard greens, and bake beans
are served (after tours of antebellum mansions
made famous by Gone with the Wind)
inside the hoop-skirt of a 28-foot, red-brick,
bandanna-wearing, southern mammy.
Tuesday through Saturday, waitresses
stack plates, clank silverware,
and slice famous banana caramel pies,
under cypress support beams
salvaged from a bulldozed cotton gin house.
In the 60s, management softened
the red of her cheeks, unhooked her horseshoe earrings,
ceased running ads that proclaimed:
Mammy’s vittles will nurse chil-uns
now aged into good ol’ boys and gals.
Recent owners restored her crumbling arms
and serving tray, refurbished the arched
windows of her housedress, claiming the blueprints
more O’Hara-esque. Frommer’s advises
checking all political correctness at the door.
They’ve lightened her complexion, rebranded
as kitsch— a throwback to the Golden Age of Hollywood.
But nothing revises half-empty breasts, the cries
of empty-bellied infants. A young master
asleep in his crib, milk dribbling from his satiated mouth.
The proprietor envisioned his remote motel
as an arctic Wigwam Village
with guests quartered in an 80ft snow hut
instead of concrete teepees.
Nowadays, travelers pull over to take a leak,
peak at the crumbling infrastructure.
One man’s pit stop is another’s unfulfilled dream.
Snow conceals weather-beaten urethane
and crude graffiti. Fifty-eight dormer
windows frame rugged Alaskan mountain-views
from the inside of unrealized rooms.
Halfway between Anchorage and Fairbanks
it’s easy to imagine warm lights
projecting from each boarded-up opening,
coarse laughter from the bar.
Would-be lodgers, bellies full of black coffee,
heading off to Wonder Lake.
Reeling-in postcards of the 42ft Santa Claus
in North Pole. Denali cascading
through their fishing nets.
Despite zoning men equipped with red pens,
he was steadfast in the belief
that his happiness depended on more sheetrock
for a personal penthouse suite.
Even from the top floor, he couldn’t see the snow
for the flakes, actuality for fantasy. Igloos
are solidified by cycles of chilling and thawing.
When occupied, temperatures can reach
a balmy 60° even when its -50°, body heat
moonlighting as a furnace. Like a dream,
an igloo will dissipate when permanently inhabited.
John Wojtowicz grew up working on his family’s azalea and rhododendron nursery in the backwoods of what Ginsberg dubbed “nowhere Zen New Jersey.” Currently, he pays the bills as a licensed clinical social worker and adjunct professor. He has been featured on Rowan University’s Writer’s Roundtable on 89.7 WGLS-FM and several of his poems were chosen to be exhibited in Princeton University's 2021 Unique Minds: Creative Voices art show at the Lewis Center for the Arts. He has been nominated 3x for a Pushcart Prize and serves as the Local Lyrics contributor for The Mad Poets Society Blog. He is the author of Roadside Attractions: a poetic guide to American oddities which can be purchased on his website: www.johnwojtowicz.com. John lives with his wife and two children in Upper Deerfield, NJ.
The Ekphrastic Review
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