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Jacob Schepers

This American Life
This American Life

My father, growing up with the trenches of WWII transcribed on his father’s American face, played a game—simple, really—whenever he found himself intruder to a swarm of mosquitoes: as they burrowed in his ears, he heard the whir of propellers; as they made for his exposed skin, he envisioned kamikaze pilots divebombing the last American refuge. His mission, then, was to strike them down with a force particular to his strong American hand. He told me about this game when my own boyhood lay behind me, as if to spare me the grief of it all, but still I imagine a scene of my own: my father at play, a covert mosquito, a sting & a yelp, a retreat making away with prized American blood.



The seaweed you took
for a shark
put an abrupt end

to our skinnydipping.
You insisted we head in:

this was too
dangerous, and the seeming
calm made it that

much worse.
We were out a ways

and had a lengthy
swim home.
While we swam

you caught me stealing
glances at your figure,

the detonations your splashing legs
created, your shoulders
breaking the surface

tension. I then feigned
an interest upward
and saw

the moon
holding the ocean sobbing
in its sleep, a reenactment

of the mud sucking
our feet downward

and delaying our departure
from this place to which we
will never again return.

When we reached the shore
what we took for the tide
was only the water

calling us back.


Jacob Schepers is a graduate student in English at SUNY Buffalo and studies poetics and 20th- and 21st-century American poetry. He is a two-time recipient of the Academy of American Poets' Student Poetry Prize.