Monday, September 25, 2006

Fishing on the Lost Coast

How about I post a fresh poem today unsullied by the reification of multiple drafts? It poses a nice contrast to yesterday's sonnet though the theme is much the same.

Fishing on the Lost Coast

Where heads of bobbing kelp can be mistaken for seals and often are,
Where tables of black rock are skirted in mussels, forming terraces in an insatiable fountain,
Where the frog spawn of life runs out in a herd toward the receding swell like horse heads beneath the swirling detergent in the pasture between rocks,
Where I watched the brilliant monofilament tangle and untangle, ribbon and bow in the light,
Where my half-century eyes threaded the line in the sun’s slant without eyeglasses and I tied my knots easily,
Where young gulls cruised north above me home to rookeries they have outgrown,

Where you must distinguish the feel of your weight scraping over bottom stones from a nibble,
Where you must ignore the kelp sawing at your line without being tempted to set the hook,
Where the ochre dance of palm kelp bending back with each onslaught looks like a group limbo,
Where the horses of froth stream under the surface toward the nearest barn of unforgiving rock,

Where twenty feet up I leaned against crumbling shale above the black bedrock honeycombed in igneous white,
Where I clutched the neck of cheap table wine and lifted it with my left hand because fishing occupied my right,
Where the hollow walls of pristine waves unpolluted by surfers exploded on the dark islands,
Where the hyperactive surge scaled old funnels and chutes over aprons of rock spilling into the small cove where I hoped for a fish,
Where I quit fishing altogether to devote myself to the bands of sunset: red, orange, yellow, green, aqua, blue, and violet,
Where I lay back in the oblique but still warm sun while my mind reached for a poem that doesn’t fit inside this poem,
Where the lost poem was about the ocean as healer and how it transformed plankton into whales and waste into seagulls,

Where the sun set like a gold coin on its side through the far cloud line,
Where it became a fat disc of molten white then a thin ripple of fire through the gray of the horizon,
Where the land and sea were suddenly washed by blues and grays and a coolness draped the shore like a shroud,
Where the bugs came out from the headland and danced in the impending dark,
Where I felt the tentative creeping of deer haunting the coastal headlands behind me,
Where the ocean purified me and the wind washed me and the rock strengthened me,
Where the surging, swelling foam bathed all things in a white soup,
Where I took my empty bucket and bait and pole and hiked back to the road,
Where I am transported again if I read this poem, back above the grinding, inexorable sea.

Rodent Neutral,



  1. I like this poem and it's a bit of a breakthrough of inspiration coming out of my depression. That doesn't mean it's a good poem, or that it isn't completely open to criticism as it's fresh off the griddle. But since there were no comments on it, I thought I'd pop my own cherry, so to speak, by making one.

  2. Hey CE,
    I just got around to reading this and I think it's a good poem. I thought at first about suggesting some cuts, but now, seeing it as a whole, it feels like such a labor of love I don't want to touch it. It does remind me that I haven't been out of Ohio in much too long and that I need a vacation.

  3. Thanks for dropping in from the ether, Jarod. And forgive any symptoms of self-pity on my part. This is a first draft, full of energy; I'm trying to stay closer to original drafts right now so I don't suck all the energy out of a poem with my revisions. That doesn't mean this poem won't be subject to revisions for years to come, my guilty pleasure.


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