Dec 1 2011

Featured Poet: December 2011 Vol. 4 # 2

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Tim Tomlinson


Tim Tomlinson is a co-founder of New York Writers Workshop, and co-author of its popular text, The Portable MFA in Creative Writing.  Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Asia Writes, Floorboard Review, InterlitQ, Mandala Journal, The New Poet, Prick of the Spindle, riverbabble, Pank, the New York Quarterly, and the anthology Long Island Noir (Akashic Books).  His poem “Blue Surge, with Prokoviev,” in Sea Stories, has been nominated for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net 2011. 






On mescaline we walked close to the dunes

where terns nested.  They swung into the sky


and dove like arrows aimed straight at our heads.

I wasn’t sure if it was happening,


but it was happening, and I watched you run

to the shoreline, fall knee-deep in the surf, 


your arms flailing at residual trails

the terns sliced into the ether.


How odd that must have appeared to people

not on mescaline, but how intriguing 


to me.  Van Morrison’s intrigue of

nature’s beauty occurred to me, how there’s


stillness underneath nature’s violence

and from that stillness all things radiate.


But that’s not what you were thinking when they

pulled you soaked and shivering from the surf.


Later you explained how that one image—

me watching your terror—is what ended


us.  That was the danger with mescaline:

the immutable truths it might reveal. 





Morgan’s Bluff Revisited


At dawn the gulls laugh again.


Two gray angelfish ascend …

… kiss the surface …

                … recede …

                                the water’s surface wrinkles.


Pink light separates the gray sky from the gray sea.

Enormous clouds form like the aftermath of great explosions.


How pensive this daybreak,

                                                a grenade without a pin.


In a needling insect heat the dawn’s final breeze fades.


A jeep’s lights flash on, it backs out of the commissary. 


Pelicans lift from the pylons.

The Cuban whore retreats up the Bluff Road,

                                                her sandals dangling from a finger.





Loop Current


At sunrise we piss from the upper deck

onto the flat calm surface of Biscayne Bay.

We are eighteen, the deck is high—our piss

arcs out in glorious loops, splashes with

a bracing violence, its ripples rolling

past the breakwater into the canal

linked to Government Cut where tugs push

cruise ships toward the Gulf Stream, our piss following. 

I imagine it churned up in the whitewash

of giant propellers, swirling in a blend

of seas and plasmids as it joins the world’s

great currents, hugging the Atlantic

coastline heading north past the flashpoint

of the Civil War, past New England and

Nova Scotia into the vast schools

of bluefin tuna spearing the water

columns.  Ice floes threaten shipping in

the North Atlantic.  It’s lunchtime in

the UK, in Spain they’re napping.  What drum

beats along the coast of Senegal, what

hurricane amasses?  This will be news

in Guyana, news in Jamaica where 

from Lucea to Oracabessa 

shutters are pulled tight.  And traffic

on Route 1 backs up past Matecumbe Key. 

By the time we shake off, the coffee cools

in the galley in mugs that taste of bleach,

and local birds vector south in airstreams

miles long beneath the pink and aqua sky. 

No news but the weather, no desire

but for longer, and still longer days.   







Saturdays were half-days, our pockets

full of Friday money.  We’d roll over

to the roadhouse on Elysian Fields,

straight-claw hammers hanging from our belts.


The jukebox played “Layla” 

and “I See the Want To In Your Eyes.” 

Pitchers of Dixie, package of smokes,

maybe a Stewart’s sandwich from the microwave. 


Coeds from UNO bent over

the pool table, denim skirts riding their thighs,

bootheels off the floorboards.  I promised

myself I’d chat up one of those cowgirls. 


Saturday afternoons I made lots of promises. 






Winter Sunday, Firenze


In front of the stone houses, their shutters

drawn and smoke climbing from the chimneys,

the sycamores are bare, leaves loiter

at the tires of the silent cars.

Orchestral music from a radio …

a woman’s face in a second storey window …

the shops are closed.  No aromas of bread

from the forna, no chatter outside the tabacchi. 


At the corner, visitors follow packages

into a taxi.  The taxi turns onto Viale dei Mille’s

empty lanes.  You proceed to the canal,

always the canal, your hands in your pockets,


a Camus without the Gauloises.

At the Ponte alle Riffe, a grandson drops bread

to the ducks, his nonno smiling.  And then

it’s just you, you and the purling water.