Editor’s note: In this week’s Poetry Corner, we feature the work of poet David Thorn. He has been published in Poetry Canada, in England, and many literary magazines across the United States, including the Porter Gulch Review, and has been the Poet of the Year three times. He is a writing teacher at UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College and is considered Santa Cruz’s original surfing poet.
for my son at two
A world of doors awaits explorers you
will send, individually at first,
but then increase as curiosity
conforms to growing fingers growing firm.
The earliest of these prepares to leave,
alone, determined to explore, without
the proper gear. His pack is small and poorly
slung, but he receives a blessing of
another kind: imagination not
restrained by histories of failed attempts,
of other journeys from the harbors in
your mind. No Everest, no Northern Pole,
no capes nor ocean storms, not even stars
are there in failure for him yet. This fresh
explorer now departs as your fingers reach
and learn to grasp the doorknob firmly, then
with tender trial and error, turn and turn.
The Dyslexic Night Watchman
He feels twisted inside his fingertips
these furies: rain forest, panther, fresh spring,
a band of neanderthals anointing
spears and antler clubs. His left hand grips
a formica table, feels in its sinews
the flexed wings of a single hummingbird,
drowning under a drizzle of words:
wet see saw was on pots no stop can’t choose.
He crouches at his desk in The Exchange,
seized by a florescent world. His eyes slack
backwards: past letters, numbers, these strangers,
as the jungle in his blood replaces ink.
A sudden rein of green leaves riddled herds
stunned, prey to the stalking jaguar in the words.
Regarding School: for my son
The bells begin. A clock records the hours:
from nine to three the minutes circle round
like dragonflies your hungry mind devours.
Alone among the thirty-one you sound
the names of lizards, snakes, and creeping things
below your breath: talismans you hide.
From time to time the teacher’s voice will sting
you back from pond or pool at low tide,
testing you with conundrums he’s designed.
Once, he might have been a child like you,
who wandered the green hills of his mind
hunting buffalo, deer—mammoth, too. Perhaps
the plains he stalked ran rich with prey,
but here you sit. He stands. The bells hold sway.
Secret Spot, 1968 for Gary Nystrom
We cruise up highway one in Gar’s old Ford
with “Let’s Go Surfin’ Now” rattling the doors.
We got wax and baggies stashed between our boards.
Scotts Creek’s pumping barrels, winds offshore
And holding up the faces perfectly.
“Let’s keep goin’ north, he says, “past Waddell.”
When Gary drives he checks each spot to see
How each cove, each point is handling the swell.
We stop—at last—and sneak across a field,
broccoli or brussel sprouts, find the way
through barbed wire, down to sand. Outside, waves peel:
eight foot glassy tubes, collapsing into spray.
We pause and smile and sniff the churning foam,
then leave the land, seal gods returning home.