• I.S.Welsh

Two Poems, I.S. Welsh


CLIFTON, OREGON

What is it, Clifton?

Why’d I come back to be

Near you,

Near the ruins of what was–

The fish heads

The sea lions

The workers

The pines.

Why’d I come back to this place

As if a steamboat had dropped me off

At the wrong dock

And I, travel weary,

Had stepped to shore without question

Except for where

Can I lay down

My things?

What is it, Clifton?

Why’d you have to draw me

Down that road

Off the highway

So I’d lay my eyes

On the water-logged posts

Standing loyally

Stubbornly

In the river

Like a whole slew of hosts

Waiting to welcome me

Back.

Or maybe

Their backs are turned

To me

As they wait for their ships

Arriving from the sea–

Ghost ships.

They wait

And wait

As the dregs of the cannery

Sway at their bases

And real fish

Swim by.

What, Clifton, is it

That you expect me to do

Knowing you

Held your workers captive–

No stores near by

No train

No boat

For days

At a time

No language to share

Just bunks and stoves

Knives and cans

The smell

Of fish

And fish again.

Clifton, what is it

Worth

My being here

Amidst nothing left

Save workers’ great

Grandchildren

Smoking meth

Amidst their children

And a chance

A small chance

One among them might be

The millionaire’s descendent

Repenting.

FACING THE LAESTRYGONIANS

You,

You eaters of men.

You launchers of rocks

From high cliffs.

I see you and all your antics.

You think I’m fazed

By your big show?

You think I’m all a flutter with fear

Over your gastronomic histrionics?

You burp the taste of my sailors

Pick a femur out from between your teeth

Run your tongue across your lips

For a bit more brain

A morsel more braun.

I know a bad thing when I see it.

You act like you’re the worst

A person could ever encounter

But I’m half way home

And I’ve seen plenty.

At some point it just becomes

The next new thing.

Nothing worse or better.

Just,

Ok.

Now this.

Now we’ve got giants

Eating our scouts

And throwing rocks at us.

I mean,

Sure,

It’ll be a good story to tell some day

Along with all the others.