In Praise of Aphrodite

John Mannone


Santa Catalina is awaiting for me.
                Romance, romance, romance, romance.
—Glen Larson and Bruce Belland


The song rings in my ears
as I slip into jello’d waves,
kelp beanstalking from sixty feet.

I sink softly into the Catalina sea
that stretches her arms toward me.
Aqua sun shafts through the cold

blue solarium. Kelp swaying bronze
leaves in swift current, wisping
like your reddish-gold tresses.

I am safe in this forest with damselfish—
flamed Garibaldi flitting at reflections.
But I am not safe with thoughts of you.

The late sun venetian’d by fronds
draws the blind. Darkness hulks.
In stealth glides through the greening.

Sleek, this non-discrinating monster:
head triangular, obtuse; mouth gaping
with rows of serrated teeth

ready to trammel, to gnash
much more than flesh, bone.
Her nostrils stamped deep

into her thick sandpaper skin.
She smells my blood, I’ve been bleeding
inside ever since you left me.

Perhaps she hears my heart
still thrashing from last night’s dream.
I make no sound today, not even in my head.

But she sees, even with her eyes closed.
The aura of me haloes the sea, inflames
sensors that guide her to me.

I am spent. Suspended by waters,
wall of sea shrinks as she approaches.
She comes in perfect symmetry.

I am offered
to a mythical goddess,
                                to her swift execution.



John C. Mannone has work in Artemis Journal, Poetry South, Blue Fifth Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Peacock Journal, Gyroscope Review, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, Pirene’s Fountain, and others. He’s a Horror Writers Association Scholarship winner (2017), a Jean Ritchie Fellowship winner in Appalachian literature (2017) and served as celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). He has three poetry collections and has been nominated for the Pushcart, Rhysling, and Best of the Net awards. He chaired the Dwarf Stars Anthology (2019). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, Liquid Imagination, and American Diversity Report. He’s a retired professor of physics near Knoxville, TN.