Gingerbread House Lit Mag

Captain Hook and Mr. Darling Sitting Poolside

Captain Hook and Mr. Darling are sitting poolside
at the Holiday Inn. They’re smoking discount American
cigarettes and slyly drinking cheap gin. Captain Hook
and Mr. Darling are supposed to be watching the water.
It’s a Girls’ Night Out and their wives have left them
and they feel like two fools and their only comfort
is the buzzing of cold liquor and Fleetwood Mac echoing
over the tinny loudspeakers. There’s really no such
thing as bad booze or bad Buckingham: it’s something on
which they agree. The children’s sleek bodies dart in blue
water like pretty pale eels and they each feel a twinge
at recognizing the beauty of wet limbs and motion, this pull
of fatherhood, when neither is known for his affection
or his appreciation of fleeting grace. They even feel slightly
sorry more men aren’t here to see these boy-and-girl dolphins,
and each, unaware, separately considers admitting it, aloud,
(oh, wouldn’t they be surprised to hear the other speak
of yet another agreement) but their dark and glistening eyes
catch and they both look away to the lights, to the limp
and dirty sailing pennants draped as decorations, not warnings,
from the high ceiling, the fabric still and straight in the airless
dome, fluorescents humming behind every cry of Marco! Polo!
and every Fleetwood beat. Captain Hook holds a plastic
cup—the wrapper was a beast to tear off. He often wonders
what’s the point of getting rich when it doesn’t buy
his hand back. And Mr. Darling’s mustache is dripping
in the heat and he’s burned himself twice with carelessly
flicked ash. Yet here they grow pacific. If the women
don’t return soon someone’s going to say something
they’ll regret. No children will die, no, it’s worse:
they are too beautiful for death, they’ve become impossibly
beautiful, oh, good lord, someone’s going to cry for pleasure
despite the chlorined-air and the terrible tattoos on too many
soft backs, someone might confess This, this is not so bad
and no one really wants to hear that, not Captain Hook,
not Mr. Darling, not even the women out-and-about
or on the lounge chairs watching them from across
the tepid water, watching the man in the topcoat and the other
with the feathers and the brocade, watching and wondering
what devils these men might be, what with their flushed
cheeks, their wet eyes, their soft and subtle smiles.

John A. McDermott


John A. McDermott is a native of Madison, Wisconsin who now lives in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he coordinates the BFA program in creative writing at Stephen F. Austin State University.  His work has appeared most recently in CobaltRight Hand Pointing, and the museum of americana. His first poetry collection, The Idea of God in Tennessee, is available from Aldrich Press.

Artwork: Christian Schloe, “The Gentleman”

This entry was published on August 28, 2015 at 12:06 am and is filed under 14 (August 2015), Archive, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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