The Good Sailor

The pocked white stones
Rise from the waves of the earth
Spines upon the back of a great serpent
Disguised as hills
It slithers through the fog and
Its cold scales impart their chill
In rough scraping over skin

I walked that serpent’s back when we fed him
To the sea-stone tomb, a place
Built for the dead, by those
Who still care about
Preserving shells, hulls, and bird eggs
After they’ve broken.

I watched as it swallowed his vessel
After he had disembarked.
A ship without a pilot soon rots
Its timbers splintering, sails flagging
Grey veil rustling
In the endless, becalming wind.

There is an old riddle about such places
“The one who needs it doesn’t know he needs it.”
But in truth he really didn’t need it
He had sailed all his journey’s waters
Slew his sea-monsters
Found treasure. Found a port, drank.
Lost all his money. Moved on. Repeat.

A good sailor.

Now that sea serpent disguised
Had consumed the ship at last
Little knowing that it has missed its chance
And he had passed on to new seas of
Sliding, dark water and dancing starlight
Rippling wave, and daybreak on the
Other side

He didn’t need it, but for some reason
We did and do.

I looked on its bloated carcass,
Where his and so many other ships
Lay in its gut.
Some were like his, having carried cargo to foreign lands
Others wrecked early, capsized in the midst of the sea
Broached and leaking from battle or being
Run aground.

Know that we need it
Because we need maps and
And portents
As we turn back to
Our own ship’s logs and charts
Plotting a little more carefully the course
Sandbars marked, storms avoided
“Here there be monsters.”
I won’t worry about that old serpent
Its timing is horrible
If one steers true
Runs a tight ship
With every scrap of sail hoisted
And bow pointed towards an undiscovered shore.

Writing in the Cloud

I saw you rise this morning
And climb up from earthen beds
Into the icy blue, where piling
You softly clamored into larger heads.

Than mine, which seems more bound
In mystery than you, whose essence is containment
Until you burst, and once again your bed have found
And dissipate, cast off as threadbare raiment.

Sometimes I feel like you I think:
Words building, thoughts rising, a straining, billowing sum
Then the snap, the turn, the bolt, the wink
And pouring out on page they come.

That clouds and I are close kin, I do not beg belief
But I do maintain, from time to time, we feel the same relief.


In the Poetry Workshop I am a part of we had to write a sonnet that conveyed a sense of pleasure, while also containing apostrophe. Let me know what you think. Had some fun writing this one, as I don’t really use end-rhymes in my poetry very often.

This Cake is Not a Lie

Traditionally it was chocolate on chocolate for me
Chocolate and coffee for my father.
Mother always made both icings from scratch
Reading from stained tattered recipe cards.
The chocolate was simple: butter, cocoa, sugar, milk
Finishing the rich, silky mixture with vanilla.
Coffee is harder to get right; you need practice and patience
Along with a strong pot of the bitter black.
One day I’ll ask her about her methods, and copy the faded
Handwriting that holds one of the secrets of youth.
The secret that sweet chocolate and strong coffee on a cake
Can remind me so much of home.