Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

BooksJuly 10, 2020

The Friday Poem: Mermaids by Jordan Hamel

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

A new poem by Jordan Hamel.




When you lose grip and start to drift.

The first thing             you’re supposed to do is

steer into it                           or steer away?


Not all mermaids are royalty

someone needs to audit the ocean

provide cashflow projections

some mermaids                     are actually

middle-aged accountants named Stephen

dreaming of a land-view holiday home.


I saw a school of Stephens the other day

out of their habitat just talking        inhaling IPAs

inhaling each other

tail-stuffed tuxes       pleated     smooth


I threw water on them             they didn’t swim

they           just got reeeeally agitated

and invoiced me for their time


I hate my shape         when I sit       when I stand

when I lie       I pretend       I’m fused to the bed

I’m nothing     but limbs    and a face

a memory foam mattress            with amnesia


when I walk             the majority of shapes I see

are better than mine


why is it so hard to hide in public?


reflective surfaces jump me in back alleys like

This is a stick-up! What’s uglier? Your inside or outside?


I ran a marathon once                   well…….

a half


sirens offer sailors benign fates

it always seems too good to pass up

Steer into a new future today!


my form           is stubborn putty

bemused by       pinching and smushing

it somehow expands             in the hot and cold?

It is an underwhelming medical marvel

if I poked it     would it deflate?      what would drip out?


scales bloom inside   escaping my skin

melting muscle          softening palms

slumping spine    impairing vision


I am a mermaid   hosting board meetings

and vigils         in rockpools               no


I am a sailor ergonomically strapped

to the hull                for good posture


no       I am     the captain        now

forever       seduced by hidden graves


I hear their call

it sounds like             a balanced budget

it sounds like comfort


Keep going!