by Stephen Reilly


The citrus groves punctuated with fruit.
Is it that early in the season? With the pastures still green,

the cattle could care less about what questions I ask
or the north-south traffic on U.S. 17. Neither do

the young Mexicans sipping cerveza and Pepsi in Nocatee.
Four miles to Arcadia. Are pastorals pastoral?

Choose for this ride your oldest oak browns,
Confederate greys, peeling clapboard homes and lives.


On this, the start of my sixth decade,
in the second decade of a new century, a new millennium,

the shrinking shores surround us,
inch by inch, decade by decade,

the wrack line of weeds and debris creeps landward.
The mangroves don’t lie.

My granddaughter, surrounded
by her children and her grandchildren,

retells her family stories,
about her grandparents and our peccadilloes from the past.

Her tales head south, beyond
the waves lapping over the oyster beds of Okeechobee Bay,

south to where our house is
a home for the groupers and snappers,

where the endless schools of sardines flicker silver.


The sky is clear.

Sparrows bathe in the dust of a vacant lot.

The Weather Channel promises a week of beach days,
days I will never see, but that’s OK.

Enjoy. They’re yours. We all get our share.

Keep any, if any, obits saccharine free:

He could be a schmuck.

He wouldn’t give up the shirt off his back.
He never took off his jacket.

These words, my words, evaporate,
lighter than a mist descending upon the Atlantic.

Tell my wife she’s the iron and steel,
whether she believes it or not. Make her smile.

Ask her, gently, to change the kitchen clock batteries.

It’s time.

About the Author:

Stephen Reilly’s poems appeared in Boomer, Albatross, Steel Toe Review, Wraparound South, Main Street Rag, Broad River Review, Cape Rock, Poetry South, and other publications. One of his poems appears in the anthology Florida in Poetry: A History of the Imagination (edited by Jane Anderson Jones and Maurice O’Sullivan, Pineapple Press, Sarasota, Fla. 1995). Steve is presently working as a staff writer for the Englewood Sun, a daily Florida newspaper with circulation in south Sarasota County, Charlotte and DeSoto counties.