Portrait of Progress Lake by the First Fish from Bragi’s Calf Muscle

Portrait of Progress Lake by the First Fish from Bragi’s Calf Muscle

“To insure food for humanity by forcing part of it to work was after all a very human expedient; which is
why it will probably be tried again.” — G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

“Here you need a little of the gonif in you. You know what that means? Gonif?”
“Thief,” I said. 
Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus


The eagle’s knees, they speak to me in legalese
Today. The sun is crying; its cedilla couldn’t be
A mere façade! A rotting moon and decomposing

Stars invented yesterday, its bats and troubles.
Dolly Varden swam through history’s jittery
Arteries to get here. Swans without ressentiment

Sing Dolly Parton songs. The sky is like a queen
Without a nose to every lesser long-nosed bat.
The S&P 500 tries to steal this mental real estate,

Pretending it’s a moral act. I eat their R&D, and
Do it trenchantly, astonishing my food with
Time’s mayoral tact. Now every day’s a crisis,

Sexually attracted to cat urine. Emily Post says
Ours is not a time for overrating first impressions.
I, too, founded the New York Post on images

Of nothing from the mountain’s doctrinaire purview.
Moonlight on the rollicking surface of Progress
Lake may appear to you like maggots frolicking.

Mercy never loses power, even when she’s sleeping.
More likely than not, another Great Vowel Shift
Is waiting in the wings of my waterproof importance.


Jake Sheff is a pediatrician in Oregon and veteran of the US Air Force. He’s married with a daughter and a whole lot of pets. Poems of Jake’s are in Radius, The Ekphrastic Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Cossack Review and elsewhere. He won 1st place in the 2017 SFPA speculative poetry contest and a Laureate’s Choice prize in the 2019 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest. Past poems and short stories have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize. His chapbook is Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing).

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