The Transatlantic Serpent’s Tale Do you recall the time when I was born? A time of ferment---Honest Abe was dead. The Civil War had left the country torn, But did not stop the fateful push ahead. ‘Twas then some bold, ambitious men were led To send a steamer through the ocean brine, To lay the first communication line. From Ireland’s shores began the epic trip To drop a cable into the oceans’ keep. Thus sired by sweating sailors aboard the ship Who midwifed the boat and laid me down to sleep, I slithered like an eel into the deep. And when the land of Newfoundland was found The captain proudly brought my tail aground. A dozen years, the crew had worked, inspired. By national will such labor and money was spent. The captain penned the very first message wired: “All’s well, Thank God, the cable is laid!” he sent. With poems and songs they cheered the noble event. And here I have lain since the days of the Civil War. At first I was famous, but now I’m remembered no more. On The Cafe Patio Why should the world be over-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs? Nay, let them only see us, while We wear the mask. ---from “We Wear the Mask”, by Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1913 I visited a street cafe, and took a table by the tree where nobody would notice me. I wore my usual mask that day. At length the heedless waiter came. The blowing of the autumn air set shadows dancing everywhere like some uncanny woodland game. A book of poems held me in thrall. I lingered in that peaceful place to start to map the inward space uncovered by some poet’s scrawl. I sipped my coffee, had some food, like other diners sitting near. The poet’s riddles in my ear set me in a bewildered mood. The cafe faded from my sight. I drifted in poetic trance, then, drawing near in a mystic dance a vast mosaic came to light. Its colored pieces always fell in place to form a perfect world for just a moment, then were hurled into a cosmic, swirling well. This happens everywhere I go. Sometimes some one will raise a brow, but no one seems to notice now, here on this cafe patio. Glenn Turner is a retired man in Southern California. Mostly self-taught in poetry, he enjoys practicing the traditional forms, and inspiring the reader. He has written a variety of poems including ballads and humorous doggerel. He edited the newsletter for the Ventura County Writing Club for awhile a few years ago.