Tag Archives: poetry

The Man Who Fished For Children

The girl’s body was stuck under a ledge at the bottom of a plunge pool where the river spun like some mad cyclone bent on boring to the center of the earth. His only tool a long grievous pole, his face set like he was born scowling, it took him a full day to get to her, tie the retrieval ropes and lever her out. The river, gorging on snow melt, fought him like he had no right to her body.

Quiet as cormorants, people stood on the rocks and watched. He brought her up, laid her on a sand bar and told everyone to leave. Later, at the parking lot, people tried to offer him money to say thank you. He said no and tied the pole to the side of his truck.

Tossing in sleep that night with a bone deep headache, he thought about the frozen knobs of her hands. He saw the outhouse at the Methodist church camp he attended when he was a kid. Putting his eye to the chink, a yolk of light coming out, then nothing.

Then his parent’s farm in Estacada. A Berkshire hog with bloodshot eyes standing in a field of stumps. Butchering day. Long skein of intestines. Head with its snout and hairy nostrils set aside for cheese. Steady drip of blood on the dirt. Dogs baying for scraps. Marshlights in the summer darkness.

Rivers of Oregon

Between the ribs of Oregon’s green and gristle
   rivers do the pulmonary work of short stories
The Rogue river once smashed my wooden
    drift boat into fist sized chunks
The North Umpqua river swirls around hip waders
   caressingly so
Where the sun breaks into pockets
   they land on the tree-lined Tillamook river
The Pudding river seems to have nowhere to go
   until flood season when it doesn’t have to choose
The Little Nestucca joins the Nestucca river
   on its short strut to the sea
Near Sarafin point the Clatskanie river
   picks up the rain from the forest
   and threads into to the Columbia
Near Sisters the Metolius river is where surgeons from Chicago
   come to fly fish in their two hundred dollar river glasses
In the Wallowa mountains the Minam and the Wenaha
   rivers are pristine as old scarecrows
Once I saw the upper Columbia river freeze
   I listened to its blocky grinding talk
   on my way to a funeral in Idaho
Steelhead sometimes come out of the Clackamas
   river like from a foundry
The Klamath river had dams for a while
   but now goes without
Sky barges full of water drop them
   in the Nehalem river
On Eagle creek I saw a river otter
   do a two step shuffle dance
Near its mouth the wilful Deschutes river crosses under highway 84
   obligingly but not without a hint of sadness
At nineteen I nearly drowned in the Rogue river
   on that sleepy hot afternoon
My friends laid me under a madrone tree
   while my insides roiled with adrenalin and stomach acid
I watched the green painted pieces of my drift boat
   wash down the river for days
Some rotating in eddies and others
   riding the rapids like tiny oarsmen

American Rebel Yellow

some see the virtue of drowning
faithfully like Jonah
thighs pressed together
in the fin and rib of things
cramped where tongues bloom
muscles tense like November trees
curving downward into moist blades
with just enough left for their desires
to be strapped to the back
still singing loudly
and overhanging like cattle

they do not obey language
like an SOS from
poorly healed stitches
buried in the viscera
only a bonfire of redwood
in the oilfields
can make them look down
can make them feel
the engine entering them
with eyes like elevators
inlaid bent and perverse

all along their bottle capped horizon
wearing their shirts untucked
singing falala songs
to buzz their hard won
southbound lives
they hurry along
hoping to curate
some kind of armature
or refrigeration system
made of steam
and the better kinds
of software

New Grandchild

Baby Ellie looks like her dad.
Roughed up a bit by birth,
but insistently here
and looking out at the world
with fearless, punch drunk eyes.

Now that I am here with you people,
I’ve yet to make up my mind about, she says,
where is the food? And can a girl
get a little shut eye?

Midterm Elections in the USA

Nightly TV two-mouthed
Striped and pointing
In four toned shoes

In Macon in Chattanooga
Sculling in a blitz
Reaching a god-like hand

Hanging microphones
Like mantis arms
Staked up high

Urging unturned
And crucial enough
Or cruciate because

Of Waco’s drive
To warrior hunt
With chopping arms

The two-fingered hands
Blind teeth and pink tongue
Befurred he and she

One suit one leaning skirt
One eyebrow arched
Pushing back bangs

Oh geez two grins
One white star
A wall of TV tiles

Hoops like golden beer cans
Bobbing over yellow marks
A text-stabbed African American

Under five-o stars
Getting ready to vomit
In a grizzled Van Dyke

Pink tie mike
Ready to take on
The birthright slam

Duck walk back
The midterm glares
For news the back row

Says king me with
An eight pointed star
Pin me with herald and shield

Not so safe as we
Always thought this
Lost dog called democracy

Love and Chemo

a frazzled thief in the burn
she came to me disorganized

and knobbed
and reaching up short

a lost wax casting
a mecca of bones in bright drapery

come and lose this she said
ride the raves the light ball ends

guitars and thin nickel strings
and rumored fathers

in this skinny hour
before noon

only from courtesy
I must keep you dead, she said

as radiation in the mouth and spine
humanized acid; arctic life

a lover knows when to leave
the summit and ledge

thin as one degree of tangent
this brief high nakedness

Whistleblower

count the rinses
the rings the leavings
the unconscious
drip drop drip
of having set off the alarm
pull the shade down
watch the blue light
filter through the creases
watch the current
following the holes
watch the day
arrive in small packets
and granite faces
and breadless ways
snow snow it
does not here
this place does not recall
your jungfrau days
it takes what it wants
and hands you your coffin
with only your hands
and eyes inside