Mark Lewis


Firehouses should always be on the highest
point of a hill. If they are on the bottom,
one suspects the engines will never have enough
power to make it up the hill to the fire.
How dreadful. Firehouses should always
be made of red brick.

Walking home one day, I passed a firehouse
with four fire trucks in the garage. The scene
looked very chaotic: engines were running,
water hoses were strewn about. Canvas
fire suits with big rubber feet crouched beside
the fire trucks, waiting, as if the men were about
to jump into them and race off to a fire.—But
I noticed the men were just standing in one corner
drinking coffee, telling amusing stories.

I walked a little farther up the sidewalk,
and a large Dalmatian approached me from inside
the firehouse. He was wonderful with all his spots.
I held out my hand and we shook. Firehouses
should always have one large Dalmatian.
One suspects other breeds lack similar flair.


My dad and I
spend Saturday
two hours here
two hours here
two hours here

Each a spot
where catfish hide
in warm, oil-filmed sloughs.

Never press on the boat’s windshield
as if looking for something.
No, slide through this

          as if nothing lives;
          a graveyard or a church
          a graveyard or a church.

Often on the water’s bank
a branch cracks
or my father questions
just to make me talk

I don’t know
I don’t know
I don’t know, I reply.

Mark Lewis grew up in Martinez, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and earned a B.A, and M.A. in English from California State University, Chico, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Poetry from the University of Arkansas. He has published poems in Louisiana LiteratureThe Laurel Review, and The Wallace Stevens Journal.  He currently lives and teaches writing in Tokyo, where he is an Associate Professor of English. Mark also enjoys running.