Time Is a Long Island

A poem by Jake Sheff


The Author’s Arrangement: Adrienne and Corri are friends at a wine tasting with live music. The speaker of the poem is Corri’s husband, changing their daughter Maddie’s diaper in the restroom of the winery. The speaker’s brother is Nathan, on his way to visit aboard the ferry from Connecticut. It’s Adrienne’s last day visiting, and the wine tasting is just before her flight home.


For A.N.


As Adrienne and Corri tasted wine
I changed a diaper to the tunes of
Hurricane Irene and Buddy Holly.

As Nathan rode the ferry to Orient
Point, a period with two points rode
Like wild fire on the Hampton Jitney

Past Walt Whitman’s wrong perfection
Near Ronkonkoma. Soft indifference
Shook the day, cracking Washington’s

Monument to – no offense! – a broken
Bagpipe. Wild fire crackled to the quiet
Thud of death as Montauk lit the sea

With magpie intelligence. As Nathan’s
Ferry hit the sea, like adages, to bits
And pieces, new advantages were

Speeding down the LIE, past Nassau
County’s Art Museum, Tiffany lamps
And shortages of pricelessness. Pure

As rope, the wine was more celestial
Than cellists as Adrienne’s plane
Landed in Islip. Jetsetters removed

Their carry-ons from overhead bins
Like jesters overselling peacetime
Exercises in the rain. Sag Harbor was

The province of trapdoors around
The time I finished wiping Maddie’s
Fanny*. A calzone was beside a cannoli

And itself in Patchogue’s Zagat Rated
Dumpster. Fatigue was dressed up
In fatigues by artists down the LIE

From honesty and letters to editors.
And Nathan’s ferry honed its boldness
Down to honey in the homestretch,

But with no agenda in the company
Of gods, it was dogged by goodness
Like a leafy tree. Abbreviated, one-

Sided theories brewed like wild fire
In the South Fork as Adrienne’s
Flight was getting used to acronyms

And practice de-icing. Highfalutin
Housekeeping – always the hallmark
Of chastity – festooned the ferry

Like all Poughkeepsie or the Flatiron
Building was on board, but Nathan
Humbly puffed on thoughts of wild

Nights on Fire Island, dazed on chains
Of possibilities like days. The LIE
Poured traffic into Riverhead like casks

Of enthusiasm or wine downhill, done
Gone swirled and sniffed. Wild
Strawberries at Strawberry Fest saw

Wild fire with jet-black forgiveness,
As the Target I browse at for Target
Brand baby powder and wipes went up

Like eyebrows of swallowtail butterflies.
Dogwoods on Stony Brook’s campus –
Being of sound minds and street legal

Religions – loaned their agenda to
The ferry and Nathan’s career, both
Above the rules and flounders that vary

Very much each season. Butterfish
And porgy knew more than we
Claimed to as Adrienne’s taxi

Commenced the saddest story,
Sad because I told it wrong and ate
Its crab cakes, crumbly as calendars.

Mail-order emollients were shipped
From Amagansett to Shelter Island
With toxic affability to prove to wild

Fire only people do important things,
Unlike the Polish Town cemetery,
Ocelot or human occiput without a gut

To tug its soul from aphorists and
Aphrodisiacs; right illnesses and,
And crazy sanity abound on islands

Where the minds and selves of men
Are all like drowning lakes. Planets
Fidgeted on their paths like oaths

As Adrienne stepped into her cab for
MacArthur airport. Iced tea disparaged
Asparagus and lobster bisque behind

The bar on Nathan’s ferry; Polish
Town’s cemetery said, “Put nothing
Off,” and Maddie’s diaper said,

“You’re putting me on.” The same old
Novelties seemed far too medium
Up and down the North Fork as the wild

Fire died, Adrienne’s plane took off
And a ferry arrived behind tailor-made
Kindness’s everlasting budding holly.


* Consider nates.


Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the U.S. Air Force. He is married and has a daughter and three pets. His current home is the Mojave Desert. Jake’s poems have been published in Marathon Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Cossack Review, and elsewhere. He has published a chapbook: Looting Versailles, available from Alabaster Leaves Publishing. He considers life an impossible sit-up, but plausible.

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