Off the Coast, Maine's International Poetry Journal

"Wind Into Lyrics"


Shadow of a crow
seeking shelter! No, a branch
letting go of snow.

—Don Kimball, Concord, NH

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Black button eyes
blind as a stump,
two rolled bellies
crammed tight with ice,
your chalk white skin
fell out of the sky
into a world of another's making.
A single element is the God you know.
Now that you're here,
what pleasure is yours?

Tonight is darker than the rest,
its chill soothes
your bitter, blue ache.
Hold me tenderly in your arms
until the wind tears down your knife-drawn smile,
until you've seen through this white-dark world.

—Brad Rose, Wellesley, MA

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Into the Main River

For Bob Reynolds

There are days in fall, after nights have turned cold,
When the sky stays stone-colored hours after dawn;
When the slough ebbs slowly through hummocks of old
Dry grass, leaving soft mud channels as it is drawn
Into the main river. Then there is little difference
Between earth and sky. One mimics the other, as when
Time and space merge in thought, thought into silent
Action. Onto that wan canvas, the heron steps, long
Legs like questions, through the gray water, the first brush
Stroke of a new idea. The painter is old, and knows
He may not paint for long, yet feels no cause to rush.
Each stroke is careful and enough; all life flows through.
His work is spare and at its best, these short frail days.
Outside, the tide withdraws, but his heron stays.

—David Filer, Portland, OR

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Children at Lesson

These children come to our house
each day, as if to drink from a
fountain we know is there. At
eight, they know how to look
thirsty. My sister teaches them.
Their parents have sent them here
to find answers to the hard sums
that even boggle the adult mind.
They know only children can find
without knowing, and they have
sent them here to find out before
the stems of their brains have
greatened and toughened on the
stalks. And ready as pollen, and
as useless. Before time,
these children will find how
to divide and multiply, or plus
and minus. They will all solve
the sums, judge figures,
play the sitar, and
connive with a Nile of alphabets,
or some other, Phoenician ravine.
Dear one boy, you, by the municipal
tap, washing from your hands
the inky burden of ancestors, you will
perhaps listen to me without knowing
—I wished to wish you better luck
than the cocksure monkey
who can always crack a coconut
and celebrate the skill.
Out the jungle, the clarity of land
bites the eye. It is a different story
where the houses begin. Alas!
It is too simple.
Don't you wish it had not happened?
Soon what you felt whistling by
would be air,
or, perhaps, stronger wind.
And what
you drank from the nearby stream on Sunday
would be water forever.
The meeting of lips would be a kiss,
as two with two make what they do.
You will know that as well as I: you would
run about hiding your aleph with a noun.

—Alamgir Hashmi, Islamabad, Pakistan

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Meeting Dmitri in Berezovaya Bay

"Regards to everybody, no need to be desperate."
Captain Lieutenant Dmitri Kolesnikov

It's not the darkness we fear as much as the cold
that awaits us. With light, we seven could see our breath.
Labored exhalations proof of our being unwillingly pinned
to this seabed; a constant reminder of what is leaving.

Cradled on the ocean floor, we miss our mothers.
Believe we will be delivered from this brine.
Sit quietly, measuring time by the mix of elements
more precious than water. Is this breath my last?

In depths of days, we huddle together for warmth.
Think of our fathers and grandfathers defending Belgorod.
Take courage in being together. Acutely tuned to
the pinging in our chests. Outside the hull. We hear scraping,

we hear tapping. Is this our rescue signal?
Or is this the long procession of our brothers from the Kursk
here to greet us countrymen? Lift us up.
Teach us all they know about coming home.

—Elizabeth Cleary, Hamden, CT

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On Waking

You can write on a wall with a fish heart,
It's because of the phosphorous. They eat it.

—Anne Carson

Ferruginous sheen,
you unfold your arms onto mine like ravenous fragrance,
reaching for

power: to make of un-life:

wind into lyrics, solving the
breezes of Welsh-sounding vowels,

just when you are beginning your ritual of
dipping your head toward the ground when you wake,

between our near faces the afternote of creosote from
your mother's grave, which yesterday we visited with bergamot
steam still in our hair, ladling out into evening fog,

even in this soaring toward crystallizing raptus

ALIVE, if strictly expressed, I might say we now are
white-throated in dawn's pouring cornlight.

—Justin Wymer, St. Albans, WV

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