The Vampyropod waits in a drawer
her ten tentacles unnoticed by paleontologists
distracted by the flash
of prehistoric sharks
all those teeth
grand aunt octopus
sat twelve centimeters across
the size of a postcard
the length of your heart
ten tiny limbs encased
in Bear Gulch limestone
under shifting Montana skies
a lazy hawk a fast moving cloud
before Rex and Saurus met death
before their necks and roar
were even glimmers
in an unkind god’s eye
she swam in a shallow bay
an ink sac
dreams of survival
330 million years
don’t let her age
or name fool you
she is kind
her grandchildren dance
eight legs nine brains
three hearts each
*Syllipsimopodi: an extinct ancestral vampire squid (group Vampyropoda) that pre-dates dinosaurs;
a well-preserved 330-million-year-old fossil, found at Montana’s Bear Gulch Limestone deposit in 1988, was finally classified in March 2022
Michael J. Fox at the Russian Tea Room
He’s even shorter than they say.
Grandma can feel my longing
He’s just a kid. She grabs my hand
walks us to a red leather booth
in the corner where he holds court.
Mike sips a goblet of Diet Coke.
Outside: pigeons shit on limousines
and taxis rifle down 57th Street.
It is Wednesday in New York.
I am at the Russian Tea Room
meeting the boy of my dreams.
She introduces us. I turn mute.
He smiles and invites us to sit.
I have seconds to prove I’m
not like the others: stand out from the long-limbed
and the unrepentantly glamorous.
I watch him gnaw on a breadstick.
He asks for more butter and a bowl
of cold borscht hold the sour cream.
I’m there long enough for him
to slurp his soup. Our heroes
are born to fall.
Later we see Monet’s water lilies
I sit in front of Hopper’s Soir Blue
the prostitute, the sailor, the clown
with a cigarette hanging from his mouth
and cry more than usual.
The Day I Learned Michael Douglas Likes Linguine
I decide between chicken parmigiana
and linguine with white clam sauce.
My sister sits quiet. My father already
halfway through a third glass of Soave Bolla.
He sticks his fork into the tortellini
of the redhead at the next table.
I notice Michael Douglas at a booth.
He notices me watching him dip
a mozzarella stick in marinara.
I have a picture of him in my room
and I’ve seen Romancing the Stone
I walk over ask for his autograph
A boy my age who must be his son
turns quiet, drinks an unusually large
glass of milk. I pull out the little red
notebook where I write stories
about rabbits and hawks and sky.
He asks the waitress for a pen
signs an empty page.
For years I run my fingers over
his signature the letters like Braille
and lament I didn’t order the linguine.
Casey Jarrin received the Goldsmith and York Prizes, and her essay, “Sex, Death, and Renting,” will appear in a forthcoming feminist anthology from Spout Press. She’s now completing her debut manuscript, The Naked Dinner. She recommends Sharon Stone’s autobiography.