- Pacific Northwest
Those who named the rivers—they live
in the heart of kin, or what remains of nations
calling these forests home
We motor through the woods, pacific on all sides,
glint of sun through cedar alder aspen fir and
chestnut cypress birch, whose creation names
are safely kept in a mother tongue, even as they
begin to turn to ashes.
This is primeval country: old spirits hide
in myriad plants, or chant their songs
in seagull’s cry and twinkling water, in fauna’s
mewlings hoots and whelps, in rhythms churned
by fins and tails that ruled the rivers, lakes and sea.
Of greenery and song there is no end
yet silent anger thrums across the land
- Golden Gate
Pier 39’s K-Dock is where the shooting frenzy
starts, heartened by blubber beauties awk-awk-ing
on their barges, in shades of burnished chocolate.
Our ship brushes past Alcatraz which holds
no fear now: cast your eyes at this shining sea—
do you not breathe the molecules of goodness,
the liberty of choice between good and evil,
and where to cruise this God-blest sunny day?
I look up at the sky defined by the orange bridge,
measure the distance between the massive volume
of ocean and the jump-off point, from where
one thousand five hundred saw what lay below:
an end to grief, a gravity that spells relief
enough to bear the crack of momentary pain
of collapsing bones, thence the swell
of mashed-up flesh.
- Eye of the Apple
In ’63: a lad on the edge of space, flushed
atop the crown of the Lady in the Harbor,
giddy on the Empire State’s view deck.
One Fourth of July, four decades on, we sailed out
from Long Island in celebration—with port,
pastrami sandwiches, late evening poetry—
our eyes reflecting a billion stars from skyrockets.
A silhouette lit up by fireworks, Manhattan
starkly stood, unable for all time to forget
burning towers, bodies falling to the ground.
Another war now rages, the Wall’s ramparts
besieged by voices calling out to arms
occupy the center of our age-old nightmares
but on a sailboat, wars seem to make no sense,
save for clashing wakes that rock our vessel.
- Atlantic Blues
‘To begin at the beginning’
In Dylan Thomas’s hundredth year,
we returned to a land of sighing green,
trekking on cobblestone upon Plymouth’s
bright roads, and into quiet halls of history.
Near the lighthouse on The Hoe
my son and I have fish and chips
shield our eyes against the sun
westering to the old New World.
This was not wholly pleasant land.
There was a yearning to be free, this is
where it all began.
But on the good Mayflower,
was there even a foreshadowing of wagon trails
and reservations, pogroms against the wigwams,
wars upon the braves of a native land?
As on that other coast
the wind answers
with a seagull’s cry.
—Edgar B. Maranan