Three Permission Slips

Permission Slip 5.2

They stood by the river,
By definition, with their rods
And reels. They hauled in
Their nets. Who was Simon?
What did he have to

Say? A fisher of men?
For real? A seagoing proposition?
Pontoons carry their weight. Water
Weight. Water pills. Water everywhere.
Are you thirsty? There are

No good transitions, or good
Translations. But they are conceited
In their humility.
The blues
In the night.  Did you
Receive my hedgehog,
she asked.

Which hedgehog? Was there another?
The vagaries of the weather
Are stuck with my penmanship.
I carry on. It’s my
Lookout, none of yours. Breathe

Your own way. Who didn’t
Feel like the milking or
Making his sandwich. Looking to
Morpheus for advice, he rolled
Over in his Saffron blanket.



Permission Slip 5.4

The carcass of a jay,
A garden-blue casualty, buzzing
With bees and flies as
Though it had been resurrected
By insects from heaven. Sitting

On top of the world
With the blues, watching the
Jays, the squirrels, prey for
The cats, dogs, and foxes,
And other, wilder, crazier things.

The poison was slowly doing
Its job. No number of
Pretty flowers could save him
This time. He had given
Up on that, more or

Less. Still he tried to
Continue whistling in key. That
Much was still going for
Him. A little bit of
Noise is unavoidable. And anyway,

He liked to hear her
Walking hard across the floor.
It all gets straightened out
Eventually. Keep an eye out,
And watch your mean streak.



Permission Slip 5.5

But it gets boring for
Everyone always with the same
Complaint. It’s not mine solely,
But I take full responsibility—
If there is any to take.

I’m allowed my complaint, even
If it’s boring. Until even
I don’t want it anymore.
Then we have to find
Something a little bit livelier.

Can’t win or dine or
Wine you. Or dine on
You. Or tell you why.
You submit to the guessing
Game. I give up already.

Helen of Troy will die,
But Helen of Colorado never.

Counter clerks and soda jerks
Populated the old days. Remember
Woolworth’s? I do, but barely.

As for the complaint, it
Just goes on complaining. Don’t
You ever shut up? One
Wonders where the love went.
But who doesn’t know that?



These poems are from a five-section chapbook-in-progress titled Permission Slips. The poems in Permission Slips are written in counted verse, a form described by Paul Hoover in his book Fables of Representation.



Ian Ganassi's poetry, prose and translations have appeared in over 100 journals, including New American Writing, The Yale Review, and New England Review. Recent news includes poems in, and forthcoming in, The American Journal of Poetry, BlazeVOX and Clockwise cat. His poetry collection Mean Numbers was published in September of 2016. Selected images from an ongoing collaboration with painter Laura Bell can be viewed at


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 06:55