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"I've always wanted to write a poem about Lake Havasu, which I only visited once when I was in my twenties on the arm of my bar-act boyfriend who was there to sing covers of ‘Margaritaville’ and ‘The Gambler’ for drunken college kids on spring break. It was a foreign country to me, and though at first it all seemed exotic and quite beautiful, it began to dawn on me that it was utterly concocted and entirely debauched, but not in a good way.”
Dorianne Laux

Lake Havasu

Dorianne Laux, 1952

Man-made, bejesus hot, patches of sand turned to glass.
Home of Iron Mountain and McCulloch chainsaws.

London Bridge, disassembled, shipped, reassembled.
The white sturgeon stocked, found dead, some lost,
hiding in the depths of Parker Dam. Fifty year-old
monsters, maybe twenty feet long. Lake named

for the Mojave word for blue. Havasu. Havasu.
What we called the sky on largemouth bass days,

striped bass nights, carp, catfish, crappie, razorback,
turtles, stocked, caught, restocked. I stood waist deep
in that dammed blue, and I was beautiful, a life saver
resting on my young hips, childless, oblivious

to politics, to the life carted in and dumped
into the cauldron I swam through, going under,

gliding along the cool sand like a human fish,
white bikini-ed shark flashing my blind side.
We heard a woman died, face down in the sand,
drunk on a 125 degree day. That night we slept

on dampened sheets, a hotel ice bucket on the
bedside table. We sucked the cubes round, slid

the beveled edges down our thighs and spines,
let them melt to pools in the small caves
below our sternums. While you slept beside me
I thought of that woman, her body one long

third degree burn, sweating and turning
under a largo moon, the TV on: seven dead

from Tylenol, the etched black wedge of the
Vietnam Memorial, the Commodore Computer
unveiled, the first artificial heart, just beginning
to wonder if something might be wrong.

Copyright © 2013 by Dorianne Laux. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 17, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Dorianne Laux

Dorianne Laux

The author of several collections of poetry, Dorianne Laux was the recipient of the Oregon Book Award and a finalist for the National Books Critics Circle Award for her book Facts About the Moon

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The crunch is the thing, a certain joy in crashing through
living tissue, a memory of Neanderthal days.
   —Edward Bunyard, The Anatomy of Dessert, 1929


Teeth at the skin. Anticipation.
Then flesh. Grain on the tongue.
Eve's knees ground in the dirt
of paradise. Newton watching
gravity happen. The
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