Eagle Poetry Corner
January 5, 2023
In December, The Eagle invited local poets to submit poems for our Annual Poetry Corner to start the new year.
Thanks, poets, and enjoy!
The Drumming Mule
The Bremen-Town Musicians by The Brothers Grimm
Tells of some animals who went out on a limb.
To sing for their supper-they were horrific.
Read their story to see how it turned out terrific.
A donkey singing, well okay.
We know a donkey likes to bray.
But how about drumming, by his cousin the mule?
I happened to see this at school!
At a basketball game, I left my seat
To get my kids a snack to eat.
As we came back by the band
There was a mule with drum sticks in hand.
Tapping his hoof and keeping the beat,
This mule didn’t need no music sheet!
Unlike the donkey who sounded quite grim,
This mules drumming lit up the gym!
His name is Rowdy, I later found out,
And I know this without a doubt;
He’s the only mule I’ve ever saw
Playing the drums. HEE-HAW! HEE-HAW!
© Jessica Vik
Cognitive dissonance is in play.
Words nor gestures are effective tools
Through the looking glass, all is distorted
and nothing can be trusted.
It is a hazy landscape with crumbling earth
that often gives way under foot.
Emerging forms shatter and fall away.
All that seems to be, isn’t.
A desperate mind forms a grid
in a futile attempt to understand.
© Martha Ellen
I drove to Aberdeen today.
Milled around down the ratty streets,
past the pastel-painted cedar-shake-sided bungalows
where Kurt learned all about life,
under the viaduct where the truant boys
smoked dope all day.
To my surprise Lithium came on the radio
and I saw Kurt’s ghost sparkling overhead
above the pick-up boys
who always forget to look up.
Sparkle; sparkle on, Kurt.
© Martha Ellen
Portland Winter Images
In the heart of the city,
an orange-gold leaf floats on a shallow puddle
projecting the last of autumn
into the sky, insisting
its delicacy be admired,
its colors not be forgotten.
- - - - - - - - - - -
Winter takes charge,
freezing the ground
so that nothing escapes—
neither earth nor water.
Amidst this gray prison, a blade of grass
so slim it looks like a crack in the ice,
dares to escape like Persephone fleeing Hades--
the anticipation of Spring.
- - - - - - - - - - -
From his window he cannot see
the northbound train to Seattle
leaving the station.
Nor can he count the number of
freight cars rolling south to sunlit rail yards.
On braced elbows he leans out
to catch the braking shriek of steel on steel,
the thrum of four strong engines.
Recalling the acrid odors
of hot oil and diesel fuel,
he climbs again into the engine cab
and looks down the tracks, gathering
speed, gathering speed, gathering speed.
© Elizabeth S. Johnson
Impetuous, we barreled down the highway to see
the biggest ship to ply the Columbia.
Everyone else is snug and warm
at their kitchen tables
as they read dire news and drink tea –
but not us.
We are shivering on a riverbank in Skamokawa,
sand in our shoes, gritty and cold,
the octopus-ink sky pregnant with fiery jewels
and the quarter moon spilling quicksilver over rocks,
sliding ashore on each gleaming wave.
Our hands are jammed deep in our pockets,
icy air biting our lips.
Wordlessly we wait,
the night thick with frog song and magic.
We squint upriver at the dark outline of Puget Island
and a green light marking the channel.
A faint hum quivers over the water
as a growing shadow
swallows the sleeping landscape.
Powerful engines drive a massive shape oceanward,
her bow wake luminous with moonlight,
a steel behemoth lit by Orion’s belt
and a shooting star.
© Dayle Olson
It is January, that drenching soggy month
when flat farmland refuses to drink another drop,
when creeks and streams chart new channels,
when cattle prize high ground over grazing,
when a woman’s water breaks, as if to say:
a little more isn’t going to hurt anything.
It’s that month when salmon swim up streets,
past mailboxes, past sodden hills
as boulder and fir gush down in a torrent of mud.
Contractions by the side of a washed-out road
underscore that children come when they want,
and the river crests in its own time.
The low-lying lanes carry a pumpkin,
a hubcap, Tupperware,
floating along in winter’s current.
These objects and slowly passing cars
are observed with disdain
from the yellow center line
by a sea lion
resting on a fat Steller haunch,
contemplating where to go for lunch.
© Dayle Olson
The Troopers of State Route Four
Driving home from Astoria, late at night. Pulled east
onto the Four in Naselle. One set of lights came up behind.
Passing lane, Salme Hill, drew alongside. Saw he was a Trooper.
Slowed for him to pass, but he stayed right with me, slowed
almost to a standstill at my left, so I did the same: what’s
the deal? I thought I was legal, but still you wonder. That’s when
I saw the big cow elk in both our lanes just yards away.
I hadn’t seen them, but he had, and saved us. I followed
him at a couple hundred yards after that, all the way
over Deep River, past Rosburg, through Gray’s River,
all the way to my road. Signaled my turn, and only then
did his lights come on--just the yellows--in a brief salute
before he disappeared around the bend. In the depths
of the dark night, we’ll gladly take the companions
we are offered.
Road kill by the river is always bad. You hope it’s a nutria
(not native at least) or maybe a big black rat. You hope
it’s not a mink, or a muskrat, or a beaver. Or worse, an otter.
But it was. The biggest dog otter I’d ever seen, right along
the center line. More than a yard from nose to pointy tail-tip,
maybe thirty pounds. Extravagant brown pelt unblemished.
I had to go back to park, walk a ways to get to it. Traffic bad,
shoulders narrow--couldn’t see how I would safely do it.
And just then came the trooper. He hit
his lights, all of them this time. Cars and log trucks
stopped. I gave him a thumbs up and dove for the otter.
I could barely heft him over the guardrail and fling him,
with one arm, down the bank to the waterside. What a thud
he made, before lying there as if sleeping in the grass. I knew
better than to throw him into the water, recalling how angry
the ravens were when I’d tossed a fresh mink into the drink.
“Thanks,” I said “you came along at the perfect time.”
“You bet,” said the trooper, “good work.” Then he killed
the blue and the red and led his little parade
on down the highway.
© Robert Michael Pyle, 2022
When we fished in Sumner Strait in S.E. Alaska
I used to kneel on the flying bridge of the “Blue Mist”
And look over the rail,
Look deep into the water at the net.
Kent ran the boat along the cork-line.
My task was to count the fish caught,
To decide when to pull the net in.
Sometimes I noticed pairs of fish
caught next to each other.
When we pulled the net in, usually they were coho
Headed home to the Stikine River.
And I wondered: Did those silver swimmers
spend time at sea together?
Did they leave the Stikine together
and accompany each other
during their ocean lives?
Did they remember their brothers and sisters
who died at sea, along with cousins, half-siblings
and other stream-mates?
When did they decide “This is the one”
and become a pair?
Were they brother and sister,
headed for the same nesting place
their parents used?
Did the male start an early courtship,
hoping to pre-empt latecomers
to the spawning beds?
Did they know they would not live
to see their children born?
Science can answer a lot of questions,
But not these.
Years later, I still wonder.
© Irene Martin
My valley tells me there’s time
There will ever be sky and twilight
She shows me her seeds of patience
Certain of rain for the sea.
I pass through here trees
and her pastures
Watch her hillsides hold up the moon
I leave her and always return there
To the constancy of her open arms.
© Jessica Schiek
Justice for Trump
The election is over and Biden won.
Trump’s legal troubles have just begun.
Criminal indictments for father and son?
The 45th President has no where to run.
Civil law suits have all been served.
Evidenced gathered is now preserved.
Tax returns are all on file.
Trump’s attorneys: Get ready for trial!
Grand Jury convened and evidence shown.
Witnesses testify to what is known.
Probable cause is all that’s needed.
Beyond a doubt evidence, the DA exceeded
Accused of rape. Accused of fraud.
Accused of being a demagogue.
This sociopathic narcissist,
tells his told fans the election was fixed.
The election is rigged, the news is fake:
That’s the mantra they regurgitate
But Trump won’t in 24,
if he’s locked up for fraud and more!
Indictments are pending as the process goes on.
Trumps getting nervous cause he knows he’s the Don.
Will he be charged? What can he do?
Those are the questions he’s trying to work through.
Trump’s minions, are cowards, corrupt to the bone.
They lied to the children. They lied to their own.
They plotted and planned an American coup,
to steal an election from me, and from you.
They traded their honor. They sold off their souls.
For power and ego they live in a hole.
The oath that that they took meant nothing at all;
for power and ego was all that they saw.
The truth now revealed of the lie that Trump spread.
The treason that followed left six people dead.
Was the courage and bravery of those who stood firm,
that truth and justice was once earned.
Trump’s game is now over, His con now revealed,
As friends and family are starting to squeal.
They’ll turn on Trump to save their sad souls,
Make no mistake, they’re all *.*
© Frederick Lehr
I’d like to nap
I’d like to nap
under the warm blanket,
in the gallery
patient behind me
visits with family
a social worker explains
course of treatment
to a woman
and talks about
maintaining quality of life.
I’m stuck facing the corner
like a Naughty Boy
so I only hear them.
Somewhere a pump
has finished its infusion
and is beeping.
Nurses chatter further away.
Steel implements clash on a tray.
The social worker is now covering
arrives for premeds.
Infusion to start “soon.”
And so it goes.
Fellow behind me
is back on the phone:
He’ll take look at it
and call right back.
My phone sounds
its Tchaikovsky Strings
It’s my accountant.
Call tomorrow, I say.
Next day, another infusion
and a new nurse.
Gallery is almost empty.
“Yesterday was interesting,”
Janna says when I ask.
“There were some interesting things
I don’t ask.
I try to nap
but I can’t sleep.
And so it goes.
© Rick Nelson