Note: I went home for the holidays for my days off and I didn’t go to my home island for the first time. It was strange. Here are some poems I wrote in the summer after high school and my first year of college.
Directions to the County Park
Follow blind bay road around the blind
corners of blind bay.
years ago we played in the tide poolsbuilding
sand jails for baby sculpins.
in summer the water seemed warm
we painted our legs with cliff mud
and climbed a leaning cedar tree.
Turn left at the dusty blue community center
the road is a slight incline
past a hayfield.
middle school we strolled in afternoons
splitting girls from boys. and we
flicked dried crab shells with bare toes.
Another road, left again-cedar fir maple
and empty campsites.
soon we discovered ultimate frisbee,
loud music, cars, and ran late
into summer twilight until the disk
began to glow.
Then beach through the dried thorns
of nootka rose and ocean spray.
today the park is empty
an eagle wades in the eelgrass
and we are scattered
high school, college, alcohol, drugs and jobs.
northeast wind blows and few
maple leaves under the rusty swings
past the dwindled sun.
Off the Grid
I live in a house which is dark at night our water is out
of a five-gallon tote, the outhouse is fifty feet that way
we keep bread in rat proof containers, go to community
potlucks. drink homemade beer, drive slippy slide
up the mountain in a blue Dotson pickup. smoke
weed in the dirt roads after dark
wave to passing neighbors boats. a momma hen protects her chicks from spring rain, peaks around our door
when we offer her food, she retreats into the tall grass,
and unripe wild strawberries.
She left home
I don’t know her now
sometimes on the telephone we talk,
when she visits we are little kids
giggling in fir tree forts, fear
is a polished exit
her life lies
in half packed boxes
I have never
Tacoma Port Protest
Crane lights streets and seagull wings reflected
off their helmets shields,
everything was heckling and waiting.
Around 2 am we discussed our position,
eyed the fully armed
serve and protectors
by their good neighbor fences
started an early morning march
linked arms, our group retracting,
slender tentacles of a startled anemone.
They used their tools well.
grenades of tear gas.
long wooded sticks
to beat a girl down
mace her face on the concrete.
shooting through the fog of gas
they advanced, eyes invisible
behind dark plastic shields
and we were shore crabs
scurrying for any form of safely.
He gives the usual
a lecture about smoking
which includes his first,
his only, cig
and the undisclosed health problems
that comes with smoke filled lungs
I believe him
because liver spots cover
and he graduated from Oregon State in 42.
He gets the year wrong
and we are back in 2006
while he re-reads my poem
cut out of the island paper,
binder clipped my chart
just by the note on my molar cavity.
He smiles, nods at my printed works
tells me McCarthy
(do you know who he is?)
required his solider students to write poetry
tells me I am cavity free
but always continue to floss.
Yes, People in These Islands Do Work
we live on glacier leftovers
rocks in the Doug Fir
scrape life out of root formed dirt
and suck water from above the high tide line.
Shaw Store Checker:
She asks me to stay
wait out these few moments till 6
desperate for talk
beyond, is that all for you today?
and the ferry is running late.
I tell her the store sells too much beer
but she rings up another pack of paps
digs fingernails through short brown hair.
working for the county
is a yellow truck, with flashing light
He keeps the town keys
for each public restroom,
every island’s dump.
he smiles in English
laughs in Spanish
we snip and peel garlic
in August shade.
I love the women
I tend for, they have purple and pink
stripes on suit shoulders, matching weights
and fins, keep their braids long.
as I was hauling today’s diver’s tanks
up the bow a seal surfaced
whisker kissed her pup
who slipped up her back
they floated, heads together
staring us away from the cove.