When the mermaids of mercy
come to me, trailing seaweed
and translucent beings to my bed,
they sing stories of when they had legs,
walked earth with the dinosaurs
before the floods made them half-fish,
half women, like I feel now.
Delirious from my feverish sweat,
a man with fake horns slips through the wall,
arms around a red lipped woman,
head thrust back in abandonment
and teeth bared in fake laughter.
They dance their tango
of despair at the foot of my bed.
To taunt me or distract me –
I know not which.
I wonder if the moon would
beam down strength if I agreed
to dance with this devil-in-disguise,
over-cologned, preening man,
castanets clicking, change jingling,
but I move closer to the mermaids,
and the tango continues without me.
The mermaids sing their sweet songs
of redemption too softly to be heard
by angels who console those of us
lying in beds alone and ill, abandoned
by the whimsical, Janus faced
gods of the night.
The poems of Pris Campbell have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including PoetsArtists, Rusty Truck, Bicycle Review, Chiron Review, and Outlaw Poetry Network. The Small Press has published eight collections of her poetry and Clemson University Press a collaboration with Scott Owens. When The Wolves Come After You, with Michael Parker, from Goss Publications and Squalls on the Horizon, a book of tanka, from Nixes Mate are her most recent small press books. A former Clinical Psychologist, sailor and bicyclist until sidelined by ME/CFS in 1990, she makes her home in the Greater West Palm Beach, Florida, with her husband.