Poems

 

Some poems from Broken by Water: Salish Sea Years,
scheduled for publication in August 2021.

 

Lullaby of the Sea

Inside the blacked-out globe of this night
without the moon, without a hint
of stars, the sea—the Salish Sea—
is the only fact our senses trust.
Its surf, thrumming as soft as our hearts
through sleepless nights, its salts in air
so clean against the reek of debris
in the kelp and seaweed of the wrack.

This skookum night of sea everywhere—
sea in our eyes, our ears, sea in
the shapes our minds name to damp
down fear.  This place where land and sea
are nearly one beneath a black dome
sky—how can this be home, our home?

(published in Catamaran Literary Review, Spring 2020)

 

Point No Point

Seven years since I walked my mother
down this wheelchair path
to the lighthouse at Point No Point,
where we sat, blanketed, in a bright
light wind, nibbling at lunch
and her favorite mints.

We counted birds, then big ships
that passed in the nearby shipping lane,
and on the hull of one: EV-ER-
GREEN that she slowly sounded out
like her first-grade students
just learning to read.

Point No Point—a mother and first
born son playing hooky on an autumn day
like this on Puget Sound,
our last picnic before her mind dimmed
below the horizon, and such outings
sank beyond question.

(published in Hubbub, vol. 33, 2019)

 

A Boat in Fog

Light diffuses on a boat in fog.
Moaning horns mark time as it appears.
The captain keeps the weather in his log.

On watch we’re blind and lost.  The engine chugs
along with ease, though now through white-white air
that light diffuses on a boat in fog.

Our helmsman holds the compass course and slogs
through wakes from boats she never sees or hears.
The captain notes the weather in his log.

One blast, near!  Then fog’s long monologue
of silence fills our straining eyes with fear.
Light confuses on a boat in fog.

There, there—a shape goes dark across our bow,
a ship upon us—then it disappears.
The captain cites the weather in his log.

If our crew sees ghosts or no, a god’s
eye-view must show how fragile we appear
in light diffused upon a boat in fog.
The captain keeps the weather in his log.

(published in Arroyo Literary Review, vol. 7, Spring 2015)

 

Two Churches

This graveyard—two
graveyards really: the white
picket-fenced St. Francis
Catholic Cemetery, and across
the lane, the pragmatic
cyclone-wired resting place
of Protestants, pagans,
and a few old-time islanders
who put their faith
beyond churches, even
this one—the quaint
steep-steepled Valley Church
that must stand watch
and chime over the sleepy valley
farms and all denominations
of island dead, ever since
the de-spired house of
St. Francis was towed into town
and restored, leaving
only this rickety picket fence
to keep faith in.

(published in december , vol. 25.2, Fall/Winter 2014)

 

Provisioned Boats

Neap tides are best
for loading boats,
it takes no genius
deckhand on Keats
to figure out.

My father learned
neap tides in school
in Michigan,
far from any true
tidal action,

but those two words
became a code
for something secret
he repeated
in his diaries.

At neapest neap
a gravel barge
arrives each year
at Jackson’s Beach
to off-load stones

on island trucks.
All day the level
ramp to shore lies
level—no luck,
no genius needed.

Father, ten years gone,
a neap tide man
in life—steady,
a provisioned boat
set out to sea.

(published in Suisun Valley Review #31, Spring 2014)

 

 

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