Lovers in captivity with permanent smiles
splash, wave. Crowds rise in coliseum
cheer, go wild! Is that you beside me dear
after forty years joined in mutual consent?
Will only death of one set the other free?

Killer whale in concrete jail below
Metal grate, round-toothed, coarse-tongued
ten buckets of daily fish it ate. 6,000 lbs.
of animal love, tender as dove grazing
rubbery against anything simulates love
What about tranquility?

Aqua-oracles sense a way in ocular blindness
Vibrations sound themselves to floating ring
mystify, de-mystify everything. Unlucky you
unlucky me. Misery in company
tempted to pass through flesh to find fresh
beginning or transcend flesh. What will it be?
As lovers in or out of water? Choreographed
Pods. What are the cues? Do you follow me?
Do I follow you? Children click at words

to find sense. What are whole and half-truths
of union? Blue-nosed and bottled up
it's always been this way. We submit, pay
homage to deity, these beguiling liquid walls
amuse ourselves within limits of within

Meanwhile, over amplifier, Trainer commands
creation leap in play. After flash of knee and
thigh. Assistant tosses herring then smelt
appeases mystery. Fate is dealt. Our hearts jerk
from cages of our chest, emotions surge

against cages of consciousness. Sex rushes
against oppression of desired unity
Trainer feeds trained hunger and we respond
Applaud! And all the while the show goes on
The Cynic lingers in shade of child's brow

thinks of Montezuma's menagerie. Were they
happy before zookeeper lord discovered his
new keeper Christ? Or isn't happiness an issue
in the wild? Courting mating, birthing to cue
Do mammals or fish, begonias get the blues?

When Adam and Eve left paradise, it may have
been for good reason. Or did cellular based
volition put them in the awkward position of
wandering 20,000 years without finding the walls
they unwillingly left behind. It doesn't matter

Lovers in captivity examine their spirit, leap
beyond physical pool, beyond condition of body
continue their exile tour of the communications
factory looking for answers to dominion question
Dominion. Simple pleasure, simple knowledge

Dominion. Summer games. Summer rays beat
upon umbrellas. Flash cameras. Splash. Then
the park like Noah's Ark is closed. Someone
cleans the trash. When home over dinner message
comes in again. Dominion. A whale and dolphin

make love. Homo sapiens call the child Wholfin
Wholfin lives in captivity. Now, mom and dad
are up to old tricks, do forward and backward
flips for fish. Otherwise they get bored. Trained to
be adorable, mammalish lovers can now be assured

by behavior modification that these beloved ones
and kindred spirits won't be abandoned to eternally
circular swimming. But what will they do? Even
painted smiles turn vicious. Will they explore the
possibility of escape or continue to drape themselves

in sensual excess for fear vows they've made will
break, leave them beached upon hot sands like heat
out of water? Like woman out of man, as bible story
goes. I don't think The Trainer knows, or prisoners
understand, lovers in captivity will follow any command.

Michael Rothenberg

If you've any comments on his work, Michael Rothenberg would be pleased to hear from you.