David Koehn’s first full-length manuscript, Twine, now available from Bauhan Publishing, won the 2013 May Sarton Poetry Prize. David just released Compendium (Omnidawn Publishing 2017), a collection of Donald Justice’s take on prosody. David’s second full-length collection, Scatterplot, is due out from Omnidawn Publishing in 2020.
DELTA 8: UNSENT LETTER 5 REGARDING WHAT THE COREOPSIS HAD TO SAY WRITTEN A FEW WEEKS AFTER A VACATION IN PISMO BEACH
Ropes unknow themselves sliding off the cleat wrap with a tug.
The middle and index fingers of your right hand hold the question.
My grandfather’s silver and gold RCA Victor A.M. radio sat
On the window sill over the kitchen table. The large numbers
Meaningful in their design, the orange dial always almost on 7.
He never turned it off. The lesson, I gather, to be on water
Always know the weather. The gray clouds accumulate the blue.
The Merc, recently tuned at the chandlery, rumbles at idle
Concentrating, as my son, Bay, and I turn north
Through the marina’s no-wake zone toward fast water.
Accept most people are but acquaintances: spend no time on water.
Behind us the dockside landing understands misfortune,
Zoltar watches us depart and grins from behind glass
Under a Tiki Hut. His forehead lined with worry,
The way I used to draw seagulls in sky,
Two waves, a tight-lipped line as third eye.
No one I know looks very far beyond the tip of their pen.
I’d say: the depth finder is broken.
There is nothing and more where that came from.
A shad churned by the motor ahead of us, now dead, floats past in a gauze of saudade.
Why do I think I have the luxury of diagnosis without solving for root cause?
Along the banks wild coreopsis, triumphant, cranes its neck
And announces no one knows when the world will end.
What did Fritjof Nansen learn in his youth to become the namesake of the dispossessed?
This is the Nansen passport for all places, seen and unseen, known and unknown.
Boaters cannot see the farms beyond the banks
Of the delta. This strange feat of engineering
Makes the inland empire a knot of waterway
And farmland, marinas and tractors, palm trees and corn fields.
Note the broken 1938 Corona Standard typewriter on the bookshelf, it needs fixing.
Cherry picking season just ended. Pull a sealed bowl of the erubescent
Cherries from the cooler. The day we walked in the orchard
Amber cherries hung like clusters of grapes.
We picked a painter’s bucket full. Teeth red with flesh. Our fingers stained to the knuckles.
A story on the AP, “Dustbin man builds free library of thrown away books.”
His name was Jose Alberto Gutierrez.
Here I want to say, “His name is Robert Paulson.”
The movie is wrong to allude to here, but if self-destruction had a stage play,
I would nominate Fight Club. Everything is an exploration in self-loathing.
Make sure the metaphor does not fit well, make the width too wide or too narrow.
Never pair the gray belt with the dress socks covered in blue dinosaurs.
Feel the sway. The music from the nearby boats muffled by wind.
There are no more DJs. Beyond the berm a long line of empty boat trailers.
There is so much I want to tell you. Last week we took dune buggies over the Oceano
Dunes just south of Pismo Beach. We were in search of the Dunites.
We wanted permission to join their utopia. We wanted to slide
Down the sand on an old feather mattress. That was the same day
We surfed the whitewash. The same day I steamed the whelks and rock crab.
The same day the vermillion snapper in parchment became fishbones.
The same day my son, barely eight, explained to me, “The air
Around a lightning strike is five times hotter than the sun.”
The travel there has never been banned.
The other world has no danger this one cannot match.