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Sample poems


I etch ephemeral sketches in flat, black water,
swirling the pike pole like a sparkler wand,
the steel spear tip igniting fairy-dust krill
as we drift in to haul up our catch.
An industrial gramophone, the hauler
churns a music of creak and moan
over the rumbling whine of diesel
and hydraulics, the echo of our exhaustion.
We sit astride the gunwale, hunched
and awing at the swooping arc of green
the line bends below the surface,
tugging the boat over the set –
till traps stream like marine comets
emerging from the depths in a burst of glow
and morphing back to bare utility
whatever beauty we’ve begun to imagine.


Black mesh torn by the rock shelf’s clinging
resistance, its gnarled-tooth gnawing, this trap’s
become a sieve all but octopus, Dungeness
and dogfish slip through. Between
strings I take the mending needle
spooled with green twine, stitch
the gaps the way my skipper sealed
the gash in his own palm
when a hook embedded in the line
hauled through his hand and ripped it open.
Everything out here is sharp-edged,
broken. Half our time working with holes
we’ve no time to mend. I take
each spare moment to tie frayed ends:
reef for tension, knot the twine,
and cinch down tight.


It was December. I’d never seen a sub-zero winter.
I must have been struck by the absence of green,
spindly trees thrusting branches of nothing
up towards thin overcast: a mirror

image of the snowed plain, trackless, without frame.
I can’t say why it was I left the contour
of my huddled family watching father
lift a frozen coyote from steel jaws

and wandered into that veiled expanse –

Nor do I recall the crack as frail ice splintered beneath my feet,
or the gust of awareness that rises when life turns
precarious –

just the plow of my quickened legs through the snow, crust
rasping against my knees,
and the chorus of cleft voices rising to the fore
calling me back to the familiar shore.