Poems

 

Some poems from the next book:

 

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)

 

Man with Apples

My earthly efforts, small as they
may be in this cursed year, amount
to thirty-one comely apples, not counting
a few the storms knocked down
and one the birds got into
at picking time.
This espaliered apple
with hardy Northwest varieties
grafted to disease-resistant stock
is practically fail-safe
the nursery claims, but what
can that mean in this autumn world
so blown apart
by wind and bombs and quakes,
and what should the world make of this man
standing at his back gate,
holding out a peck of shiny apples?

(published in Raven Chronicles, vol.17, no.1-2, 2012)

 

Citizens

In these unquiet years
the seasons drop from the sky
like days and nights.
Still, we try to live

in the moment—the summer sparkle
on water, an autumnal breeze—
but something disquieting
dampens our lives,

the soggy leaves lie
unraked and leach into the soil,
the gathered twigs smolder
in the firepit, and when winter

arrives with its old bible
of lessons, we narrow our eyes
and pretend to skim
the illuminated pages.

(published in Hubbub, no. 25, 2009)

 

Western Eyes
for Raymond Cross, Coyote Warrior

Two bald eagles grace
the rocky outcrop
above the wild beach
at American Camp.
Poised so still, their whites
gleam in the afternoon sun,
while the black feathers
puff with each gust
of wind off the Strait.
Through western eyes,
they look like totems
that mark a sacred place
of a proud clan.  Through
other eyes, two tiny nuns
keeping sharp watch
over God’s strict order
on the mess below.

(published in South Dakota Review, vol. 46, no. 1, 2008)

 

One thought on “Poems

  1. Hello Gary. Wonderful to find your website. Love Provisioned Boats and A Boat in Fog. Last year when visiting Chico, I found in the used books store one of your books. I moved two years ago from Mt Shasta to St George, Utah, to help care for my mother, who since passed away. Spend most of our family camping trips in the southwest, so I feel at home here. Very different from your ocean country! I am glad you appear to be living a full and happy life. Jan Stirling (a student from the mid/late 70s).

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