On A Ferry Master, Revisited

[Note: I was happy with the first version of “On a Ferry Master,” but I felt like there was a missing quatrain. I’ve added the middle quatrain, and edited the poem to more strictly adhere to a 10/10/10/12 syllable count in the quatrains. But for line 12, the opening foot of each line is a trochaic foot, but, for the other feet, I followed my ear. The quatrains follow an a/a/b/b rhyme scheme.]


Tawny, brawny arms inked with grime and black,
loading his boat he swings them front and back,
leading cars like heavy Holstein cattle,
patting the steel heifers as they park and rattle.

Bouncing ‘tween banks his doddering ferry –
doubting drivers’ faiths whispered and carried –
Master mans a hoary helm armed for kills,
fated but to now cruise round the same pygmy hill.

Temporary shepherd cross choppy water,
tending his ferrous flock his lone bother.
Master charges a small two-axle toll,
but breathing exhaust ’tis the cost to his weathered soul.

On A Ferry Master

Tawny, brawny arms inked with grime and black,
loading his boat he swings them front and back.
The ferry master ushers his cars like Holstein cattle,
patting the steel heifers as they park and rattle.

A temporary shepherd across a stretch of choppy water,
tending his ferrous flock is his only earthly bother.
For his protection he hoards the paltry two-axle toll,
while breathing exhaust is the charge to his weathered soul.

On the Fox’s Bark

The fox’s bark is sharp and high
upon the hill below my house,
it sounds along the morning dew
and snatches at my muffled ear;
a victim of his sneaky scheme
to stalk and spoil my weary dreams,
I rise to watch him mug and laugh
and dart among the prancing deer.

On Feasting on the Years

Sitting at the corner table in the bistro,
everything around you in hazy relief,
auburn hair pooled around your delicate shoulders
in lazy waves lapping across your naked neck,
I cannot recall the taste of the bread or meat
or the sensation of the red wine sliding down,
but I remember devouring the moment —
engorged on my young lust and younger love for you.

Nothing else mattered in those gravid, timeless days,
the world populated by us and your red lips
plump as the breasts behind your tawny curls,
nourishing me more than the food between us.

Now your argent hair lays in tired recess,
winding down your weathered nape,
worldly fingers taming it behind your ear,
breasts falling behind your untouched plate,
we have more than feasted on the years.

On a Note Before You Depart

I should write very soon,
nothing long or boring,
hi or howdy will do,
thinking, that’s all, of you.

It’ll be a quick read,
kind words to you from me,
loving you on pages
inky in some places.

I hope you’ll hear me out,
before you must depart,
forgetting in stages
my young ruined heart.

On Slipping the Knot (Ver. 2)

I took another stab at my prior poem, hewing more closely to its iambic tetrameter in this version. I think it’s an improvement. Hope you enjoy.

I took a breath beyond our love,
a pause to see you go your way,
resigned to savor mem’ry’s knife,
and thrill its bitter long decay.

I’ll wrap the past in tears of joy
if after years of hurt and pain
I find the peace to staunch the loss
and call out your forgotten name.

I slipped the knot you offered me
and watched you dangle from below.
And turning from your greedy gaze,
the seeds of life I sadly sowed.

On a Farm Walk

The smell of cow dung knifes your pink nose
as you walk down the hill lined by fence,
behind the ramshackle old farmhouse
where your bygone and present condense.

You pass the goats, rutting at the dirt
in front of the corrugated pine,
blinking the ammonia from your eyes
so you can see some family line.

The woods start after the grey goats, and fall
away from house and familial cast,
with its green-roof porch and mangy old dogs
and acrid tinge of smoke and the past.

The woods is carpeted with wet leaves —
red, brown, and yellow soldier platoons
delimbed and dead on the battlefield;
your cul-de-sac under far distant moon.

The salamander so surprises
that you jump and startle just a bit
at your city ways and clumsy hands
and total lack of countryish whit.

You see the cow lounging past the wood,
and the weathered shed where father slept,
and hear the far off laughter roll down,
gathering speed to find you inept.

Standing quiet by the gurgling brook,
imprisoned by trees and rolling hill,
with a green salamander in your hand,
your open heart baring plenty to till.