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2 Poems written on Monhegan Island

Fire In the Sea

(a poem in the past)


A whiff of smoke

Propels me I know not where.

I have come out of the fire

To be renewed in the night air.


On the pavement

My footsteps echo hollow.

Unconsciously the smell of smoke

Bids me to follow.

I know not where.

I know not why.

The smoke lures me on

I whisper, I sigh.

A flame intent

On finding its mate

Lies at the base of the smoke,

Burning large and untended

In the fog and gloom.


Over the rise, at the bottom of a stair

It rages sending signals into the air,

Calls me to its bosom, its hearth and throne,

“Come!” it cries to make me its own.


I stumble forward blindly.

Instinctually I fumble.

Having given up long ago

To thought or reason much trouble.


Down the road to the crest of a hill,

Downward I look

Feeling a mysterious thrill.

That somehow the smoke

Has guided and lured me,

Seduced me to the sea

Where impossibly burns a fire

Providing light to no one but me.

Brave flame imperiously resists

The encroaching damp.

Hissing and sizzling

In the middle of this deserted ghost’s camp.


I side with the fire

Feeling the inevitability of its plight.

Soon to be extinguished

And taken from my sight.


I ponder the meaning

Of this brave peninsula,

Soon to be an island of fire.

The waters swirl about it

Confident of the outcome.


Slowly, inexorably

The fire in the middle of the water

Shrinks with each surging wave.


It’s lit, it’s out,

No, it’s lit again.

Believing somehow

That the inevitable

outcome of extinction

pales beside the battle for life.


Again and again

The water’s onslaught is repulsed.

But the island of fire grows steadily smaller

As the swirling waters retake the beach.

The rising tide is the moon’s daughter

Creating a moat, extending her reach.


Being such they will win the night

Vulcan’s fire quenched by Diana’s light

And yet I watch, the end in sight.


The flames almost extinguished

Gasp, sigh and sputter,

To reproduce more of their kind

Sustaining life’s flutter.

Until at last when it should have died

One last wonder in the fire I spy.

Two small sparks about one inch apart

gleam defiantly from the dead fire’s heart.


They have made a pledge

To see it through together,

No matter what threat

No matter what weather.


The entire ocean swirls

Around and around them.

But somehow peacefully

They gleam on together.

Sure in their pledge,

Sure in their plight,

At last together

They bid farewell to the night.


The fire is out.

The smoke is gone.

Their time has run out

And the ocean has won.


Only I remain

To ponder the significance

Of what I have seen.


I turn to head home

For I have found what I sought.



Internal Alchemy

(a poem in the present)


Now take me to the strong places,

The passionate places

The small but celestial spaces.


I have seen the moon

Carved out of stone.

I have bathed in the waters

That make me their own.


Intense yearning to follow

The chariot of Apollo

On its journey day after day

Across the sky.


On a mission of my own making

To find the light

To lend me the heavens

And find second sight.

The zephyrs breathe on me

And seek to lock my joints with rust.

Volcanic forces from the loins of the earth

Have frozen in the dust

Scattered on the molten edge

Of an ocean moved with lust.


Allow me to introduce myself I say.

They look away politely but afraid.

Is nature so small

That it can not

Encompass a single thought?

Or so broad that the thought

Gets overlooked or absorbed or extinguished

Or patted on the head

And told to “be a good boy.”


This roiling passion,

This distant flight

Beyond all the loonies

To warmth and pure night.


Pure light suffices to ease my poor brain.

But what is the reason for unremitting pain

Borne patiently without concern or modesty

To the point of self negation?


Who is this seaside beauty,

Subtle Nereid seeking to immortalize the moment?

She is deep and clever, warm and bright

With sun in her eyes, and a soul for the night.


Beyond my comprehension

She swims through the shallows

And flees through the deeps

Supple with ease.


But she storms, she storms

And I lose my sense of true north.

For she knows enough to make me question

My sense and my worth.


Unintentionally and casually

She brushes off my smirks,

Strong within herself

And gentle at work.


She leads, I follow.

I follow, she leads.

Unimportant who knows,

Or asks or succeeds.


The seeds of tomorrow

Are sown today.

So be who you are

 And mean what you say.


A long time ago

Someone crossed a continent

And crawled out of the sea,

Generating a reflection of mirth,

A cacophony of glee.

But the open horizon

 At the end of this calm duck strewn water

Is beckoning to me.

It says

Don’t give up just yet.

Don’t hurt yourself or others.

You’ve always been a late bloomer.

Perhaps a little later than most

Time, circumstances and good will etc. etc.

Manana, siempre manana.



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