PoetryIssue 05 | June 2009

The Iceberg Vacation

by Robert McDonald

Ignoring the eager travel agent’s spiel, the deluge of brochures: sunsets, palm trees, a couple
embracing in the foamy whoosh of surf, you opt for something new, and northern.
It begins

with a roar of animal catharsis, polar bears and seagulls waving farewell
as a hunk
of iced mountain breaks away from the mass to go ka-bobbing into the drink—

Cocktails, anyone? the maitre D asks, one hand on a pear-shaped hip.
We waltz
till dawn, across the shimmer and sheer of the arctic night, while the sea froths

against an island hideaway almost imperceptibly melting, the boundaries fading
the way
boundaries will, each new realm defined by reduction, the wear and drift,

the slap of water.  By what is lost.  Still in the melting new things are found:
a mammoth, the daisies
it ate for breakfast still trapped in cold back molars—something for the kids

to play on, and a rousing challenge for the chef. Unpack your trunks,
the fur-lined cloaks,
the cummerbunds, the jar of olives, the frosty gin.  By the second week

the ice becomes soothing as the sun beams down, and seabirds scoff
at your station,
the lack of room, the once-white fields a grey morass, slushy footprints.

In the heat, in the failure of your vessel and its cracking apart, you need
to save your tears,
end the spat with your children, the punishment of your spouse.

A timely helicopter rescue, (as promised in the brochure) and you’ll wake
at last in your own bed,
returned to a life you had only just fled.


About the author

Robert McDonald’s poems have appeared recently in Dark Sky Magazine, The Dirty Napkin, Disquieting Muses Quarterly, and Prick of the Spindle, among others. He was recently awarded an Illinois Arts Council grant for a poem that appeared in The Columbia Poetry Review.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok