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Jimmy Went Over the Dam


Before he was the nightswimmer, he was steering a two-man canoe
which shot past the lip of the dam. Ted Arcaro was ejected,
catapaulted to deep water he could swim out of. Jimmy skidded
down the facing, was knocked unconscious at the bottom.
Ted thought his friend was gone, but he was still breathing, his head
in a lucky pocket of air underneath the capsized craft. In retrospect
that moment is when Jimmy drew the line between the delusion
of unkillability and a surer sense that people are fragile.
Accidental baptism, inciting incident before he ever nightswam.
Jimmy knew the water can surprise you, snag you in an instant.
His heart pumped hard on the riverbank as Ted brought him to.
He’d flirted with erasure, stuck with life. It opened his eyes.


Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net in 2018. Mercer won 1st, 2nd & 3rd place of the Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Prizes and the won Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Prize. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, was edited by Laura M. Kaminski and can be read free at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in: 100 Word Story, The Lake, Leaves of Ink, Literary Orphans, The Pangolin Review, Praxis Magazine Online and Soft Cartel. He’s writing from the bustling Grand Rapids and the laconic Antrim County, Michigan.

Todd Mercer’s “Nightswimmer” poems have appeared in various venues, including at Praxis Magazine Online. You can read more of the series here.

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