Ports of Call by Edgardo B. Maranan

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  1. 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


  1. 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:

(new stanza)

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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.



(new stanza)

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



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