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"Good Intentions"

How Quickly What's Passing Goes Past, poems by Lowell Jaeger

Wesley and I aspired to build a lake
in his backyard, with lily pads and fish
and frogs. We dug a hole, planted
an old hog trough, filled it with good
water from the garden hose. Pedaled
for the river, buckets clanging from our handlebars,
fish nets lashed to our bike frames and fenders.

Under the bridge, minnows schooled in the shallows--
shiners, and chubs, and bullhead fingerlings.
Easy to scoop with our nets and fill bucket loads
quickly. Frogs dived under but sooner or later surfaced
for air, and then we nabbed 'em. Lily pads
we yanked in tangles, uprooted from the muck.

All this we accomplished while the waters
murmured on, and breezes shook aspen leaves
trembling. While Wesley and I waded the ripples
like glad little gods, glad little gods
of good intentions. They had good intentions,
Wesley's mom shrugged. She and Wesley's dad

surveyed their torn up lawn, the bloated fish stinking on the scum
of Lake Wesley, where frogs floated belly-up and lily pads mouldered.
What the hell! Wesley's dad grumbled, and Wesley's mom
said again, They had good intentions. She said it
while picking at a hangnail. Wesley's dad
chugged his beer, looked up at the sky. Maybe,
he said, that ain't what should let them get by.


Lowell Jaeger teaches creative writing at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana. He is author of five collections of poems: War On War (Utah State University Press, 1988), Hope Against Hope (Utah State University Press 1990), Suddenly Out of a Long Sleep (Arctos Press, 2009), WE (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2010), and How Quickly What's Passing Goes Past (Grayson Books, 2012), in which "Good Intentions" was published.

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