Melanie Braverman

Dec 31, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

Neap Tide

It’s the season of the sea’s long pull from shore and my dog
has slipped the lead again to run full out away from me as I walk
the edge of the flats calling for her to come back. The musical
ching
of tags at her neck mean nothing to her, out there
it’s something else she wants, not this limp bag of treats
I wave a half-mile away as if food could bring her back.
As if anything could.  Gulls drop their small missiles of shellfish
and wheel, tide so far gone my dog is a dark smudge that bounds
and recedes.  I could call it joy, but her running lives
beyond my naming, when I call her the sound of her name
as it clears the slim canal of my throat pleases only me, brants
and eiders swimming backward in the shallow bowl of bay
while my dog runs on, not for them but for something none of us can see

like the child I want but some days fear I’ll never have
is somewhere out there running too, vaporous but real as the clouds.
How will it come to us, through what means do I imagine us tethered
already to its slight formidable frame, umbilicus or some other
flexing line cast as our fishing neighbor from her deck casts daily
into the turning tide for which sometimes she is rewarded with fish
but often with only the feeling that fish will come.  We proceed
these days on faith.  I call my dog to come, hoping my voice
and everything it might mean to her will be enough to draw her
as a dousing rod is drawn to the spring no matter who is holding on.
But it does not.  She runs, pausing only to thrust her nose into the laden air,
each scent specific and urgent the way everything we’re calling
into our life caroms like dice in an open cup, swift as the spinner
on our neighbor’s foundered boat.

~~~~~~~~

Melanie Braverman’s most recent book is Red (Perugia Press, 2002), winner of the Publishing Triangle Audre Lorde Poetry Award. The poems appearing here are from a book-length manuscript called “The World With Us in It.” She is a poet-in-residence at Brandeis University.

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Erica Funkhouser

Dec 31, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

Love Poem with Harbor View

There, splashed on the floor,
lies the light,
****helplessly yellow.
It has been out all night

****doing Lord knows
what, and now it is missing
****this morning’s addition
to your new goatee,

****the exuberant darkness
forged from a good night’s
****sleep. Outside, the ships
lashed to the wharves

****are slowly unloaded.
What do they know?
****Not even our names.
Cargoes accumulate on the quay,

****little self-absorbed cities
with eye-level skylines.
****I have woken before you.
Your are too young to sleep beside,

****and yet you sleep
magnificently, the heat pouring
****from your body’s furnace.
In damp rooms

****all over Amsterdam,
restless eyes scour every visible
****surface for reassurance.
Perhaps my questions

****are not large enough,
if they can be satisfied
****by a single peninsula
of beard. One week ago,

****like a sweep’s smudge,
the first shadow started
****below your tender lip.
Now, a field of black tulips

****prepares to unfold.
In a moment the buying and selling
****will begin. The light
will find its way

****to coffee pots and guilders
and hand-ground lenses,
****to the fruits of other lands
ripening beneath your window.

****Poor impartial window.
Poor light, with its taste
****for glitter and glass,
Poor Holland not waking in your bed.

Erica Funkhouser, “Love Poem with Harbor View” from Pursuit.


The Women Who Clean Fish

The women who clean fish are all named Rose
or Grace.  They wake up close to the water,
damp and dreamy beneath white sheets,
thinking of white beaches.

It is always humid where they work.
Under plastic aprons, their breasts
foam and bubble.  They wear old clothes
because the smell will never go.

On the floor, chlorine.
On the window, dry streams left by gulls.
When tourists come to watch them
working over belts of cod and hake,
they don’t look up.

They stand above the gutter.  When the belt starts
they pack the bodies in, ten per box,
their tales crisscrossed as if in sacrament.
The dead fish fall compliantly.

It is the iridescent scales that stick,
clinging to cheek and wrist,
lighting up hours later in a dark room.

The packers say they feel orange spawn
between their fingers, the smell of themselves
more like salt than peach.

“The Women Who Clean Fish” first appeared in Natural Affinities (Alice James Books, 1983)

~~~~~~~~

Raised in Concord, Massachusetts, Erica Funkhouser studied at Vassar College and Stanford University. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including: Earthly (Houghton Mifflin, 2008); Pursuit (2002); Sure Shot and Other Poems (1992); and Natural Affinities (1983).

She was a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Foundation grant for poetry. She has also worked as a playwright.

She lives in Essex, Massachusetts and teaches poetry-writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Rose Hunter

Dec 31, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

You As Sea Urchin

bottom feeder and bottom dweller
you were not interested in the surface
you were all surface, even as rusted anchor

corrosion: where two unlike objects meet

she means a water tank
and a page thirty-nine
stuck on it, as I am on your spines

or picturing you at your wedding
(they’re not going to show! -
if you hadn’t waited that extra minute…)

or leaning back to peel the card edge
(and only look once -
you can remember two cards, right?)

or how you tell me your feet can breathe
smashed clubs, on the glass

in front of which I am
kneeling; a kind of atonement

and confessional:
sometimes you walk on your teeth.

You As Fierce Inhabitant of Brackish Water

in the presence of decay makes
me think of your teeth and did you know I once
wanted to be a naturalist? And you
I asked, but your (sliding) answer didn’t
satisfy; what do crocodiles want?

Extinction events: your talk of all the people
who’ve died, your infernal last man crawling
a bite stronger than a shark, stronger by far
than a bear. Sluggish but when propelled
by the force of your peerless, surprise – like me

you can stomach stones: beyond your jeweled
hide, wattle bask and rivet, your grey
gradient, in the way of the slow then the quick
and ex cathedra ping-pong-ball-eyed joker

(so I’d know you were serious)
your ferocious life goes like that.
(A slip then the surface as before.)

“You As Fierce Inhabitant of Brackish Water” has previously appeared in Willows Wept Review (issue 12, Summer 2011).


Conchas Chinas

Our hinge ruptured now but still
for a time we were like seashells
I mean a bivalve mollusc
hemolymphed for a permanent low tide.

*******Remembering this

I wash the saucers first.
There is mould like drift ice
in our colours: that of the blood
bruise, the sunset and the smashed-up
eye. Then the plates,

the glasses, the cups, the
cutlery. After each taxonomy
a sink scrub and fresh crunching of
foam and bubbles to turn to
ditchwater again; a last
ditch attempt to make myself
******needed if not wanted,

more than the black bear
the runny egg, the crimson gutted
smashed-up mockup mollusc jungle
ends; his face, bilge water, as I
reach under, turning away, one
shoulder calling out to the other

how the pot that calls the bilge and the ditch
and the terracotta slaughter: kettle; and even
the saucers drying on the counter
a pale and Venetian, spring,
*******clink together what

mollusc I wanted to be, not a dead
floating in the water grasping
kettle seashells bilge
*******face it; over there;

what we once were hinges
black bear kettle saucer mollusc

so I tried to wipe that away also; had to?
The final stain?

It was red, and mine.

* Conchas Chinas, (literally, “Chinese seashells”); also a residential area south of Puerto Vallarta.

“Conchas Chinas” has previously appeared in to the river (Artistically Declined Press, 2010).

~~~~~~~~

Links to Rose Hunter’s writing can be found at “Whoever Brought Me Here Will Have To Take Me Home.” Her book of poetry, to the river, was published in 2010 by Artistically Declined Press. Poems of hers have been published or are forthcoming in such places as DiagramPANKkill authorThe Nervous BreakdownanderboelimaeJukedThe Toronto QuarterlyBluestem, and others. She is the editor of the poetry journal YB, and lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

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Greg Miller

Dec 31, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

Spirit

I am a skeleton

on a skeleton of white rock

slipping to blue.


A bull’s broad, angry breathing

under me, not the sea

in a cave through a blow hole,


mist lifting off the sea in sheets

that curl up, like breath:

the voice speaks what it sees


and takes.  It is one voice.

It bellows.  It wants

to trample me down.  It is free.


Wanderer


I pass the first calanque, its white

rock-sheltered beach, to a path between

two hills, hearing chats and serins

when I stop, pollen-dusted finches

like hummingbirds in the pine cones.

I think I’ve found a path through heaths

though I can’t call this dry rock, broom’s

bloom, and rosemary’s blue a heath.

The gray-white cliffs lift bony knobs:

the needle,” “finger of God,” wind

blasting my face.  I take another path,

still up, over the rise, until I see

Aleppo pines clinging to cliffs

across a gorge—then white rock islands–

and I don’t kneel or fall but feel

like I might fall.  Gold shoots through blue

so I see spots.

*************I take switch-backs

down the cliff’s edge back. I grab at roots.

I sit trembling on a rock shelf

myself all I’m not all I am.

~~~~~~~~

Greg Miller is Janice Trimble Professor of English at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. The University of Chicago Press has published three books of his poems, including his most recent Watch (2009), and his poems have appeared recently in Slate, The Anglican Theological Review, Spiritus, and are soon to appear in Tikkun.

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Leah C. Stetson

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

The Secret Life of Bin, “Lost at Sea”

Sluggish cargo ships, predators of snails,
Haul and shed their containers, lost at sea,
Submersible Bin banged-on lose nails
Tumbling like a wheelchair down the stairs

In a rocky ecosystem. Far above, birds of prey
Push the melting sky of bright clouds, capture
Any jumping fish, recycled cardboard of the day,
Absorb toxics and digest adhesives, bits of lure.

Bin overhears a sordid meeting: Pirates cut
Their asking price. “Every hostage must go!”
Liquidation of oil, fumy fumes and feuds gut
Dissect chemical analysis, fencing cyclones.

Waves away, floating beside finback whales that lunge
And plunge to feed their new slogan: Save the carbon sinks!
Bin tries to seine fish as if a weighted gaping cavity sponge
They just swim out again, “no tanks,” it thinks.

Tide-turned, bumped against a seamount, this flotsam
Treasure buries a robotic arm still hinged, under-utilized
With the mechanics of a spiny lobster muscled claw
Pent-up lashings Captain Hook never fantasized.

In the darkness, a tiger shark (tagged for monitoring)
Investigates Bin, takes a bite outta him, loses interest,
What a nightmare. Dreams of Atlantis, ancient things,
Contents absorbed by the power of tsunamis, hints
Left deep in the marshlands on the coast of Spain.

Water seeps into the wound, enough to tip, dip and gulp
Bin won’t wash up ashore, oh no, sinking evermore,
To the sea floor, a shifty edge, a sanctuary of writhing kelp
Sadly a different story, if Bottle had written home

This note: “Made it safely but Bin’s adrift.
Send a boat.”

Mer Girls

I grew up on a tiny island,
Where I played with mermaid dolls
I called Sandy and Shell—
We wore seaweed necklaces,
Sucked on saltgrass
And sunned ourselves,
Swirling in a hot, black inner tube
That insulated me from the shock
Of the incoming tide,
Which numbed my feet so I forgot
About my jellies, even as mud
Squirted out the sides
With each step submerged
Treading & letting the rockweed
Collect at my waist,
A briny petticoat with many
Pairs of hidden legs.

Salt flaked off my skin
As though I shed scales
When I emerged from my swim,
I carried one mermaid ashore
But lost Sandy, blonde with green fins,
Who I never saw again—
How I looked for her evermore
And dreamt she drifted
Off to sleep in some briny bed
Way out over my head, out deep.

Strange Girl of Tides, a Siren’s Song

In his dreams he goes exploring and his mind travels back
Searches for a smaller world, ‘cross bridges and railroad tracks
He finds a tiny island in a harbor he once knew well
Always autumn, a golden-glow, the same salty smell.

If he were an island, he’d wear rocks and a breeze;
Strewn with the fates of other men, broken shells,
Bits of glass worn and green, silted wounds on his knees.
Peer into his tidal pools, a mirror of destiny deep down
Where to hide, not for long, out with moons and rogue swells
Trees hundred rings round with sirens in their crown.

Edges eroded by saltwater and time
He patched and repaired, falling pebbles
A blurred and benign disappearing line
Lost his boundaries, brick and rubble.

Suddenly a strange girl, dirty blonde and summer,
Slipped through the eel grass; he sat down to watch her
She perched upon a rock to dry off, wet long hair made darker.
Up close, not a girl, mud-caked thighs, uneven scales that marked her.
If he were an island, this angel of tides might be his avenger.

Regret reaches, a seamount, under his skin
Invisible between the crests of waves,
An extinct volcano, no risk of eruption.
No lava, no lover, nothing to save.
He shrugs it off, crumbles and caves.

If he were an island, he’d wear rocks and a breeze;
Strewn with the fates of better men, broken pots and shells,
Bits of glass worn and green, silted wounds on his knees.
Oh, swim against the current, beneath the trestle, he longs
To tread water, not slip out with moons and rogue swells
Haunted by the sirens in the trees and lured by their songs.

In his waking hours, he walks along the shore
Never to that island, not a bridge anymore.
But in his dreams, he takes the railing, body rigid
He leans over… won’t dive into that cold harbor.
Live to find, his angel of tides, that island girl
His avenger, she’ll patch the pebbles, draw the lines.

Every man is an island, looking for the lines.
Will she avenge him, this strange girl of tides?

Edge of the Dump

I drove to the transfer station,
With plastic shopping bags in the back seat,
Rinsed tuna cans and milk gallons,
Trash that reeked of seafood shells & entrails,
The nasty parts we didn’t eat.

As I recycled my containers–
*Clank, clankety-clink*
I noticed a familiar cover:
Rachel Carson’s classic on the brink
Of being tossed over!

There, at the edge of the dump, I salvaged
A 1955 paperback 8th edition in good condition
The Edge of the Sea, to which I pay homage,
For it is a most poetic and practical guide
And the reason that I could finally fathom

Ecology, long after I’d
Nearly drowned in my course text
While my professor denied
All my attempts to make sense.

So I turned, as though with the tide,
To my idol marine ecologist and writer
On principles and periwinkles,
Salt marsh laws and ooh, the water!

The pages of my own copy were tagged & crinkled,
Marked where I wanted to refer
To her words and to reflect—
Writing my term paper,
All too circumspect,
Braced for the inevitable scoff,
“In all its varied manifestations,”
The grade, for one, I thought, was off
But I am known for exasperations
And swam away from a twitching prof.

I navigated through the dump’s gates,
Like a series of locks in a canal.
Back on the main road, I felt a change in weight
A solid decision to liquidate
My assets, to quit my typing job—I shall!

So that I have more time to write
And teach part-time at the Oceanarium.
I love to see micro-organisms come to light,
Revealed in ripples of moon glow, a microcosm
Phosphorescent in the dark of night.

Finding Carson’s book at the edge
Of the dump was like this, incandescent,
A revelation, a hotspot, a ledge
Insisting that I save myself,
Find a tide pool that cools the mind

And dive into it.

~~~~~~~~

Leah C. Stetson is a poet, writer, editor and human ecologist from the coast of Maine. Leah holds a master’s degree from College of the Atlantic. She writes about wetlands for a nonprofit organization. Her poetry has appeared in New Maine Times, Off the Coast, Wicked Alice, Red Ochre Lit, Words & Images, Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal, Wolf Moon Press Journal, Not Just Air, LILA: Literature of Los Angeles and COA Magazine.  A spiritual mermaid, she has blogged about sharks in wetlands, among other marine topics in her “Strange Wetlands” blog at http://aswm.org/wordpress/

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Gerald Vizenor

Dec 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

Almost Ashore

winter sea
over my shoes
shadows
and bright
round stones
at san gregorio

every wave
turns a season
forests adrift
empty shells
memory of fire
so faraway
in the mountains
and canyons

silent pools
raise my faces
by early tide
slight my hand
shoulders
almost ashore

light breaks
over the plovers
certain steps
my traces
blood, bone, stone
turn natural
and heavy waves
rush the sand

“Almost Ashore” from Almost Ashore. Copyright © 2006 by Gerald Vizenor. Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing.

nasturtiums
decorate the last fences
down to the sea

paper boats
sail on a crack of thunder
out to sea

Two haiku poems from Cranes Arise, Nodin Press.

Selected passage from a chapter in my novel, Hiroshima Bugi: Atomu 57, University of Nebraska Press.

The sword was mine, a natural, driftwood bounty shaped by steady ocean currents to fit my tiny hands.  I raised that sword over my head, slowly turned about to my shadow, and practiced the cuts, thrusts, and blocks of a seven-year-old hafu ronin on the beach, the serious, solitary, ingenuous pantomime of a samurai warrior.

My wooden sword, a natural contour, had washed ashore near the orphanage at Oiso Long Beach on Sagami Bay in Japan.  I was roused by a sense of tradition and secret power, and at first touch that sword cast a mighty shadow on the beach.

The ocean game me another chance to create a lasting presence in the world.  My heart beat with the waves as the bony clouds raced out to sea.  Nearby, four ravens strutted on the beach and teased me with garrulous croaks.  The sun warned the sand, my hands, and drew me into a natural pocket of solace stories.

~~~~~~~~

Gerald Vizenor is Distinguished Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico.  He has published more than thirty books. Native Liberty: Natural Reason and Cultural Survivance, and Shrouds of White Earth are his most recent books.  Vizenor has received the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award.

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J.P. Dancing Bear

Sep 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

Victory—Woman Metamorphosing into a Boat with Angels
****************for Simone Muench

Awake ye and come sailing: I think you have angels caught in the riggings of your hair: I say
monkey fist
: you talk about the latitudes: I go on continuously about pitch, roll, and yawl: you see
the whale spouts and spindrifts: you are swinging the compass now: I fear the jibe: but you have
faith in your preventer: I think it’s weird there’s no figurehead: you warn me to stay away from the
cathead: all this time I thought I might have the figure: to pull off an angel: you box the compass
now: I’m all sea sickness and Arc of Visibility: you set a course: of course: and the jacks all reply:
Aye, aye


Temple of the Ocean

****************for Lorna Dee Cervantes

you’ve walked along the beach for hours: taking in the energy of each wave offered: you fill
yourself with blue and green light: wade into the water heart-deep: to feel the power sway you as
it swells in and draws out: when it pulls: it is like a lover’s needs: the water over the stones and
sand singing to you: a wooing voice: each wave is an arm: in a dance: timed perfectly to meet
your body: on the shore there wait treasures: ornate shells: stones polished by the surf: sand
dollars: a speckled feather: the rainbow interior of abalone shell: you run your finger along the lip:
of the swirling greens, blues and purples: almost like the currents: the ocean catches the sun
itself with its ropes of mists and fog: bright golden light: even as you step back onto dry sand
your spirit says yes, yes, yes: and this is why you love the ocean back with everything within you:
the primal call of each wave: the power: without ego: each graceful wave: willing to accept you
as you are: willing to give you all that it can

Island Like a Heart

Prospero kept the island as his heart—
a secluded place far from the sight of ships
yet tensed, the open maw of a steel trap.
Scattered along the craggy shorelines
the planks of wrecked vessels drifted,
gray gulls cried like grieving sailors.
The underbrush rustled with dumb lust
as brutes smashed and searched in hunger.
At dusk gnats rose out of the reeds,
dark ghosts readying their haunts.
He left the night to the creatures
with their savage cacophony, each sure
it ruled the island, sure as his revenge.

Island

perhaps the body drifts: the bed edges closer to the water: the towering flower growing from
the true center of the mattress: is your personal tree of knowledge: as you curl yourself to sleep
around its trunk: you watch the stars reflected from the surface of the still sea: small fish
mocking the moon’s silvery shocked expression: coming up close enough to scoop with your
hand: you fantasize umbrellas: but not as some droll coverage: more as sails to catch wind: pull
this knuckle of land in a direction: you feel the clouds slipping through you: as though you are
some ghost: a shipwrecked sole survivor: having spent this lifetime: on a bedrock: and a
salvaged bed: each light on the horizon: a hopeful bonfire: blinking a billion years ago

Island Myths

We were once two islands,
till our species mixed
and created new species.
Your Polynesians
carved their sleek boats
from your trees
to paddle to me and trade
with my aborigines.
Like fingers they touched my shore.

They told the myth of you,
alive in the mouth of your volcano,
how you and I are lovers
who ran away together
during the battle of our parents—
yours the gods of land
and mine of sea.
Though we have no fathers,
and may not even be gods,
I think you like that story best

“Victory, Woman Metamorphosing into a Boat with Angels” (first published in Cerise Press), “Temple of the Ocean” (first published in Connotations Press), “Island” (first published in The Medulla Review), “Island Myths” (from my book Conflicted Light, 2008) and “Island Like a Heart” (from my book Inner Cities of Gulls, 2010).

~~~~~~~~

J. P. Dancing Bear is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently, Inner Cities of Gulls (2010, Salmon Poetry).  His next book, Family of Marsupial Centaurs, will be released by Iris Press. His poems have been published in Mississippi Review, Third Coast, DIAGRAM, Verse Daily and many other publications.  He is editor for the American Poetry Journal and Dream Horse Press.  Bear also hosts the weekly hour-long poetry show, Out of Our Minds, on public station, KKUP and available as podcasts.

Visit his website: http://home.comcast.net/~jpdancingbear/

Autumnal 2011, Littoral Currents Read more

Rachel Dacus

Sep 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

Grunion Run

Tonight all San Pedro’s on the beach.
Bus drivers, teachers, kids, fishing
boat captains. Under this full moon’s
grin, from Baja to Santa Barbara, they are due
to rise at midnight, ghosts from the sand.
Families toast marshmallows over fires
as we wait for a silver flash that says tiny fish
have materialized. So they say, but you know
grown-ups. Sheila says it’s like snark-hunting,
a joke, but I think Jerry’s right: grunion are poison.
Tonight, some of us will die.

Parents talk and drink. We squeal at the touch
of salt water on scabbed knees, squish around
in sluggish surf. Bored, the adults talk of leaving,
but then a shout rises down the beach.
Breathing holes appear between our toes.
Grunion!
the call up and down the coast. We run,
footprints stitching sand and scoop up squirming sickles
that racket in our buckets. We dance, looting the sea.
Phosphorescent flickers mean the Red Tide is coming,
and weeks of no swimming. But for now it’s all fireworks,
sea-spewed treasure for the taking.
We knew it! How easy life would be,
that they were wrong. And we jump to get rich quick.

A Pot of Humuhumunukunukuapua’a

In a store I saw a one-cup teapot
shaped like a fish I once met
under the waves at Puako Beach.
Short as a thumb, he had a name longer
than the curving shore. Breaker
blue scales and gold fin-to-fin stripe,
he startled me among the reef knees–that
and his painted eye under surf as frothed
as kettle-singing water. I took him home
and filled him with leaves and bubbles,
let him ruminate until the tea steeped me
dark enough. As he swam away,
I pressed a silver fin to each eye,
lifted my cup and drank
crackling syllables of sea.

Rain Hula at Anini Beach

He arrived on our moldy lanai,
swept-up hair bedecked with a hibiscus.
An indeterminate pronoun
in an orange sarong, he kissed
us damply on both cheeks,
in air, a double cross. Introduced himself
as Pa’ula without looking us in the eyes.
He demonstrated the kahiko, a history in dance
of Hanalei Bay’s fifteen kinds of rain.

Pa’ula’s large, wide feet stamped
down the spade-digging torrents of aka-ula,
and his fingers petal-whisked hanini showers.
Undulant brown biceps rippled up a sea spout
and a chant rose from his proud throat,
a belly-anchored cry to clouds.
But the eyes mourned as he broke
down each leaf-soft move
for our architect and teacher fingers.
He laid mourning words at our white feet
as they tangled on themselves and sweat sprayed.
On the beach, palm fronds thrilled
to his drum, but we woke
only the neighbors with our stamping.

Pa’ula was surprised that we learned so quickly,
fast as his keiki in school. He accepted cash,
but his hibiscus glared: an ancient eye.
That night, the water came drumming.
Green geckos frisked on the wood beams
as we dozed, woke, slept again.
Rattling sword leaves called out
to the sea’s boom. Ripples ran
like children back to shore
and the storm danced outside the reef.
For three nights the skies,
praised even by haole hands,
dropped their silken quilts on sea and land.

Sea Trains

Freight trains come and go in the sea.
All night I heard their wheels on track
hammering the cliffs relentlessly,
thundering away, then roaring back.

All night thundering wheels on track
arrived from the sea’s fluid core.
Thundering out, roaring back,
carrying new people to our shore.

Arriving from the sea’s fluid core,
seal-heads pop up from swells
that carry new people to our shore,
tourists who gather polished shells.

Seal-heads pop up from swells.
Above, the raven floats effortlessly
over tourists gathering their polished shells.
I heard trains all night in the sea.

Above, the raven floats effortlessly
surveying what washes up from the sea’s core.
All night I heard trains in the sea.
They seemed to carry people to the shore

Where we seek our proper stations
while freight trains come and go in the sea.
Changing trains, we improvise destinations,
hammering the cliffs relentlessly.

Monet At Pourville

He hasn’t quite abandoned the shore
for the celestial, still, he leaves
the viewer a toehold on the sand,
has yet to go sailing with the gods
of water and air. Confronted by immensity,
he answers with seven sailboats on the horizon,
spaced as evenly as place settings
on the water’s green oval. Tiny between sky
and sea, they float there, witty as elder aunts.
He isn’t choosing between here
and hereafter–just letting the hues
grow full of pale fire. The boats approach,
recede, as he plays with their figure-ground.

He hasn’t yet gone into the world of mist,
but an evanescence is growing. I’m mad
about the sea,
he writes. He brushes alight
its hidden fires, prisms light. In his umbrella
pastels and wool-tuft clouds, eternity leans
into us. Still, that dark patch of sand
at the lower corner makes us hear the crunch
under Madame Monet’s black shoes
as she comes calling and calling him to lunch.

~~~~~~~~

Rachel Dacus has published two the full-length collections, Earth Lessons and Femme au chapeau. Her new collection, Gods of Water and Air, is forthcoming from Kitsune Books in 2012 and was a semi-finalist for the 2010 Akron Poetry Prize. She also has published a chapbook, Another Circle of Delight, as well as stories, essays, reviews, interviews, and poems in Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Fringe, Many Mountains Moving, Prairie Schooner, Tiferet, the Pedestal Magazine, and many other journals. Her CD of poems accompanied by music is A God You Can Dance. She lives in Walnut Creek, California and works as a fundraising consultant. More about her writing can be found online: www.dacushome.com and http://dacusrocket.blogspot.com.

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Larry Kuechlin

Sep 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

Journey

*******************¿Pequeño Hermano, en dónde has vagado?

***********I have come home
here, where
the water is full of my anguish,
with the same questions
the sun, in its
**************resolute dying
will not answer;
a conversation held across
*********************the heart’s shadow
and the Sunset Cliff’s patient drift
*******beneath time and recanting sea.

A young Dusky has followed
the warm currents along Point Loma
to feed in the shallows below me.

*******I recognize him by the scars he bears.

He comes back to
remind me of memory and seasons;
old photographs that bleed to vanish
into the turned up corners of
***********************the tired wish,
and all the worn places
where the sun hides a burnished face.

He reminds me of days
when I followed the unpaved ends of Baja 1
beyond the wildflowers of Vizcaino

into the arms of Santa Rosalia;

French croissants and strong coffee
cutting the cold nectar from chilled mangos
********on a morning terrace
languid over colorful clapboard houses
hewn from the strength of
***************the Copper Armada,
and plazas filled with
******************************the reminisce of dance;
past the Cathedral of Eiffel
and the invisible sea of Concepcion

*******to La Paz
where he raced along my Whaler
in the lee of Isla Cerralvo
just there, where the song of the Finback
drops away to eternity

into hands that remain empty
even under the impossible weight
of a drowning moon over
***************Bahia de Los Angeles:

memories that
dip a finger into San Borja night
and stir a sky absolved
under the insistent whisper
**********************of Milky Way:

*********there is so much more to light
*********than remembrance…
*********there is so much

more…

until finally I understand
I am seeing with
***********************my heart;

that he is young
only when the sky is young
under a borrowed fire held
*******summer long.

I stand along shore
amidst the echo of sea shells forgetting slowly light;
*********************and I wish to follow him
where no journey can equal its steps;
to find the loss of things,
***********************************adrift

as disconsolate;
*******to swim out to the edge of
the La Jolla abyss
beneath following trades
****************************bruised with gold;
and carry them with me in
*******************3 great breaths;
deeper than hope;
*******deeper than                               stars;

to leave my breath
***************in the light that remains
on the razors edge of sight;
and look back up in that moment
when the sun has remembered
****************************breadth and passing
and seeks its place
where it has always been;
**************without falling or time;
to look up beyond
that final pinpoint of light:

**********just then,

your hair descends down from dreaming
and my arms are full of answers

**********and I realize
I have ever only had but
**********************one journey:

*******I’ve spent my life
listening to the wind                   plead
wingfuls of reaching fire
**************over the confession of sun to sea
and every word was

your name.

Larry Kuechlin, Copyrighted, 2009

A Conversation of Grandfathers

Until the end
the only time you cursed me
was over the sea

that evening I guessed your secret bait.

I smiled as I let another
White Seabass slip from my hands back into the Pacific,
careful to remove the hook gently from his fragile mouth

and remembered your beautiful voice used as
****such a blunt tool:

********Bugger off!

We all have our passions,
but you and I, we know
the ocean runs so much deeper

passed to us both,
this love that long roads and
childhoods are built on:

your grandfather taught you to
make your living from the sea

my grandfather taught me
to make a life from the sea.

I made a long cast with my favorite rod,
all the colors I wrapped on it
dancing against white wings
as always they surrendered the place
where Seabass hide behind jade;

their secret exposed by the careful eye.

I sat on the rocks watching gold turn
beneath the quiet cry of Terns
snatching sunset one star at a time
from the sea

and I thought of all the songs we never wrote;
together, never listened to.

And I still cry when far down the river
the remembrance of my grandfather
falls all through these summer evenings;
mourning the tidal flats and cattails
their blood and salt;

but you always knew I was broken

in places where there are no metaphors
no dark lines that circle back to morning;

these are memories now, though;
twilights that never existed
under a moon that never forgets:

footsteps that fall into each other
so very many oceans apart.

In my heart, you will always be there

beyond the old bridge holding the same old fire
there, where the long strand waits without a breath
in the soft pretense of light

and everything the ocean knows
leans one bleached moment past disrepair.

I can just see you
****************still

straw hat, wind rumpled and seaward;
sundress softly askew in new moonlight

across and burning slowly
the tidal river you use as a barrier
so friends won’t discover your secrets;

carrying a big spool of commercial line
neatly wound for the next meal;
bringing back the only reason
you came down to the shore:

a Blue-Boned Grouper;
5 kilos of Indian Ocean sapphire;

an animal that carries its color down to its core

and waits patiently amongst the coral heads
watching for crabs washed off the rocks

with eyes
that see only the desire

and never the hook.

This is inscribed.

Larry Kuechlin
All Rights Reserved, 2011

~~~~~~~~

Poet
Waterman
Rock Climber
Photographer

Born in San Pedro, California
Lives in Ocean Beach (San Diego), California

www.alabasterandmercury.com

Books In Print:

Mountain Biking Orange County, Globe-Pequot Press (in print since 1996)
Along a Ruined Sea, d/e/a/d/b/e/a/t/ Press 2008
Along a Ruined Sea, Special Edition, Avalon Press 2009 to present (Nominated for the Tufts Discovery Award)
Entrances: 30 Poems and 100 Lines About Love, Avalon Press February 1, 2011 (Nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize)
Something Still Visible In the Fire, Alabaster & Mercury, August 2011 (Nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize and the Tufts Poetry Award)

Notable Events:
Award winning poet, California Collegiate System 1981
Published in Alabaster & Mercury, Volume 1 (two poems)
Short list; Tufts Discovery Award, Claremont Graduate University
Published in Ink Spots, San Diego Writers Union (1 poem)
Published Cock Amuck and Crowing, Chris Madoch; (3 poems)
Published in Starlight Press website (2 poems)
Associate Editor, Parapluie Publishing 2010
Editor for 9 volumes of poetry
Moderator of a writing group; 2007 to present.

200 first ascents in rock climbing in 3 different countries.
Published in Rock and Ice Magazine

I live close enough to the ocean that sea lions or a big swell wakes me up, along the world famous Sunset Cliffs of San Diego, California with my overly-possessive cat, Pogo.

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Lyn Lifshin

Sep 30, 2011 No Comments by Sea Stories

MORE LETTERS DAYS LATER, AFTER THE TSUNAMI

these last few days
everything was in chaos.
When I close my eyes
I see dead bodies.
When I open my eyes
I also see dead bodies.
Each of us must work
20 hours a day. I wish
there were 48 hours in
the day so we could
help rescue folks. We
are without water and
electricity, food. We
barely manage to move
refuges in before there
are orders to move
them elsewhere

ONE MAN SAID

he saw a little Japanese boy
at a grammar school to help
a charity event give out food.
It was a long line that snaked
one way then another. It was
getting very cold and he was
at the end of the line in a thin
t shirt and a pair of shorts.
It was getting very cold and
the little boy was at the end of
the line.  The man said he
worried by the time the boy
got to the end of the line there
wouldn’t be any food. So the
man spoke to him. The boy said
he was at school when the
earthquake came. He saw his
father swept away. The boy
was on the fourth floor.
He saw his mother’s house, on
the beach, said she and his little
sister didn’t make it. He turned
his head and wiped his tears
when asked about his relatives.
That’s when the man said he
took the food he had and gave
it to the boy who took it right
away but he didn’t eat it. Instead
he kept the food where all the
food was waiting to be distributed.
When asked why he didn’t eat
it he said I see a lot more people
hungrier than I am

MAY 10

Still, the darkness
like someone close
dying. Even with
out lights, the
cherry petals glisten.
It is too much
really. Grief that
will last longer than
the blossoms with
light still at half
power. Words
like a blues riff.
When it is dark
enough you
can see the
stars

MAY 2011

in Kanagawa,
300 km from
Kukushina, tea
farmers had to
dump the first
harvest because
of radiation.
One man emptied
huge sacks with
leaves in a nearby
dump, crying
because he had to
throw away the
“children” which
he had grown
with such care

THE SADNESS OF LOST TEA, THE

sadness of the first
tea harvest, Japan.
Local products with
powdered tea, like
cookies and crackers
have to be taken off
the market because
of fear even if made
with tea from last
year’s harvest

Click here to read more of Lyn’s poetry.

~~~~~~~~

Lyn Lifshin has written more than 125 books and edited 4 anthologies of women writers. Her poems have appeared in most poetry and literary magazines in the U.S.A, and her work has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women. She has given more than 700 readings across the U.S.A. and has appeared at Dartmouth and Skidmore colleges, Cornell University, the Shakespeare Library, Whitney Museum, and Huntington Library. Lyn Lifshin has also taught poetry and prose writing for many years at universities, colleges and high schools, and has been Poet in Residence at the University of Rochester, Antioch, and Colorado Mountain College. Winner of numerous awards including the Jack Kerouac Award for her book Kiss The Skin Off, Lyn is the subject of the documentary film Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. For her absolute dedication to the small presses which first published her, and for managing to survive on her own apart from any major publishing house or academic institution, Lifshin has earned the distinction “Queen of the Small Presses.” She has been praised by Robert Frost, Ken Kesey and Richard Eberhart, and Ed Sanders has seen her as “a modern Emily Dickinson.”

Lyn Lifshin’s prizewinning book (Paterson Poetry Award) Before It’s Light was published Winter 1999-2000 by Black Sparrow Press, following their publication of Cold Comfort in 1997. The Licorice Daughter was published in February 2006 and Another Woman who Looks Like Me was published by Black Sparrow-David Godine in October 2006. ([email protected]) Also books include A New Film About a Woman in Love with the Dead, March Street Press, Marilyn Monroe, When a Cat Dies, Another Woman’s Story, Barbie Poems, The Daughter I Don’t Have, What Matters Most, and Blue Tattoo. Lifshin has won awards for her non-fiction and edited four anthologies of women’s writing including Tangled Vines, Ariadne’s Thread and Lips Unsealed. Her poems have appeared in most literary and poetry magazines. Her poem “No More Apologizing” has been called “among the most impressive documents of the women’s poetry movement” by Alicia Ostriker. An update to her Gale Research Projects Autobiographical Series, “On the Outside, Lips, Blues, Blue Lace,” was published in Spring, 2003. Texas Review Press published her poems about the famous, short-lived, beautiful race horse, Ruffian: The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian. New books include Mirrors, August Wind, Novemberly and just out spring 2008, 92 Rapple Drive and Desire. She is working on a collection about poets, Poets, (Mostly) Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially the Lies will be published by World Parade and Tsunami will come from Blue Heron Press. Other forthcoming books include a book about the courageous and riveting race horse, Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness from Texas Review Press, Nutley Pond from Goose River Press, Lost in the Fog from Finishing Line Press, Persephone from Red Hen. For interviews, more bio material, photographs, reviews, a contact, interviews and samples of her work, browse this website: www.lynlifshin.com

Autumnal 2011, Littoral Currents Read more