Something You Can Do by Jonathan Bracker


O what you saw when you were young

If you are old enough today

To have been born before TV!


Now you can remember

Your first praying mantis

Stalking very slowly as in a horror film;


A flea market at the State Fair:

Miniscule lives

Inserted into paper pastel skirts


To move on a small dance floor

When trainer-nudged

Or pull paper-clip chariots


(That was called “the fleas’ Ben-Hur”),

A circle of people standing around

The attraction looking down at the dots;


Two boxing kangaroos in a tent

On the sand at Jones’ Beach

If you were specially lucky;


Uncle and Aunt at night

In your own backyard,

Introducing you to Orion the Hunter


(Feel the crick in your neck

As you look up at splendid new friend

Unknown to Katie and Steve


Who only possessed the Big Dipper).

But surely the greatest thing you ever saw

With your young eyes was that creeping


Light green mantis preying or praying

That you wanted to prod with one finger

But did not know if it was safe, or real.



Jonathan Bracker’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Northwest, Writer’s Digest, and other periodicals; in several small press anthologies, and in six small press collections; a seventh, Poems About Poetry, is due from Upper Hand Press in 2018.
Bracker is the editor of Bright Cages: The Selected Poems of Christopher Morley (University of Pennsylvania Press: 1965), co-author with Mark Wallach of Christopher Morley (Twayne Press: 1976), and editor of A Little Patch Of Shepherd’s-Thyme: Prose Passages Of Thomas Hardy Arranged As Verse (Moving Finger Press: 2013).
He has lived in San Francisco since 1973 and is a retired college English teacher.