Swans Island Buoys And Other Lines

Swans Island Buoys And Other Lines

by Donald Junkins

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Overview

In Swans Island Buoys and Other Lines, an award-winning poet shares his compilation of poetry spanning forty years and providing a colorful glimpse into life on a small working island in Blue Hill Bay in the Downeast Maine coastal waters.

Donald Junkins, a former professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Director of the Master of Fine Arts program in English, offers seventy-five poems presented in a lyrical, resonant voice. Junkins includes original poetry and works previously published in such journals as The New Yorker, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and the two-volume anthology Contemporary New England Poetry. With a polished style, Junkins illustrates daily life for the 350 year-round inhabitants who orchestrate their lives around the tides, nightly winds, lobstering, fog, and late summer rains.

In a world where the natural ebb and flow of nature dictates everyday life, Junkins offers an exquisite collection of poetry reminiscent of a time gone by.

On this late morning in late June two yellow butterflies traverse the beach peas where the seawall begins.
Mourning doves sound in the air.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781450244312
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 11/12/2010
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.23(d)

Read an Excerpt

Swans Island Buoys and Other Lines


By Donald Junkins

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 Donald Junkins
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4502-4431-2


Chapter One

"On this fine August Day with the sun shining on the fine Swans Island Terrain that we of this place love so well; I find pleasure piled up on pleasure placing in My New neighbors and Friends hands this fine book [Biography of an Island].... I am now Retired and living on the old farm; now the Morison Tent grounds address Atlantic Me." [signed] Capt. Clyde M. Torrey Retired [1970]

    "Approaches To Blue Hill Bay":
    Chart No. 13313


    Late June, walking the deer runs
    to Goose Pond after supper
    summer begins. Sidestepping
    stormblown poplars,
    dry-wading the slash from the pulpers' camps
    ten years ago, keeping the imaginary
    straight line from Duck Island Light to the north side
    of Goose Pond Mountain in our minds' eyes; poking
    our fish poles through young hackmatack
    straight-arms, trying to keep from snagging
    the green fur, the purple stars on the schooldesk landscape
    of the nautical chart.

      Yellow, blue.
    The island woods are yellow. The evening sun
    sprays through from the other side of the evergreens.
    Woodcolors, our first grade pegs
    arranging. We push for the first view
    of the marsh-edged shore, spruce stumpsticks
    edging deep water trout
    neverminding the cold. We know where we are:
    a mile straight in on the yellow.
    We lose our way. My son climbs a blue spruce
    to see where we've been: the two Sisters,
    Long Island Plantation. On the left, the Baptist
    church in Atlantic. We head into the sun.

    Late June, walking the deer runs
    to Goose Pond after supper
    summer begins suddenly. We can hear
    the creeing of gulls. Beyond the trees
    they are landing, taking off, landing.
    Saltwhite. Freshblue. It is all
    pre-arranged. In a minute now
    we will see the pond. Nothing has changed.


    After Catching Mackerel Off Kent's Wharf

    Twenty years ago Richard competed
    here with the Fisherman's Co-op two wharves down
    in Burnt Coat Harbor, before he moved his float
    to the Mackerel Cove side of the Carrying Place.
    Now pigeons coo beneath the pressure-treated
    two-by-eights, and the tenders of lobster boats
    rock on their plastic buoys in the late morning
    breeze. The harbor is ruffled clean blue lace
    as the Annette Marie sidles to unload
    and weigh the morning's haul. The wharf's black
    Labrador retriever barks for his cracker
    treat, and Normie Burns obliges, goading
    him for fun. This September day
    is white and blue with old island ways.


    Lines Begun Near The Shore In A High Wind

    The low roof pot swings
    empty over the dark deck; two blue
    flags snap-flutter on grommet rings
    down the driftwood mast. "Who

    are you dear?" my mother asked
    last summer, eating her apple, her wig
    awry under the sweeping gull's eye, basking
    sweater-cozy in the sun. I was rigging

    the extension ladder to stain the topmost
    cedar shakes. "You mean I bore
    you?"—and struck the driftwood railing post
    laughing, nibbling her apple core

    to the seeds. She dozed in the August
    heat. I dabbed and brushed the dark
    oil in as the breeze wavered in cooling gusts
    off the water. In her sleep she mumbled "Hark,

    hark." Later she said, "You mustn't mind me, dear,
    but where have I been all these years?"
    Now the island weather has changed again.
    The blue flags drape, and the fog is rolling in.


    The Night Island Wind

    A big-eared mouse appears
    and disappears behind the corner
    boot, hearing

    no footfall, no heavy-handed
    log topping the birch-sogged
    flames. Dead

    soot crisps and drops into the fall's
    first fireplace glow. All
    summer I followed

    her tracks with an owner's scorn
    for untidy guests horning
    in. Now shorn

    of the easy confidence that comes
    lying alone in the August sun,
    pastor John,

    I am undone in my own house.
    I hear the high tide roar as the mouse
    carefully browses

    in the tinkling pans. Without wit
    I brought Joan the deadly news at lunch, the tidbit
    that hurts,

    and headed out on the ferry's leisurely run
    to the oiled deck cold with beach stones,
    pine cones

    piled for the autumn fire. Wee
    beastie, Burns called you and me,
    listen: the sea

    roars exactly as the half-moon
    rises over the yodel of the gone
    summer loon.


    Deep June Onshore, Opening Up

    The wind rushes the poplars, and the wild rose
    ruffles by the rotting deck. I cannot see
    Ram Island for the larch arms now between me
    and old news. Whose death tolls

    off Sunken Money Ledge? I have cut
    a hundred branches to keep the lower
    view. Earlier, two kayaks and their paddlers
    gleamed from Red Point to the Sister Islands' hut.

    Here my deck chair frays. The railing-mast
    from the Muscongus Bay sloop floats
    between deck posts, punky: my daughter's seven coats
    of yellowed varnish peels. The past

    is something else again. When I was a child
    I found a Collier's magazine in a gold mine camp
    above Lynn Bay, Alaska, Eddie Cantor
    ogling on the cover, asking calmly wild-eyed,

    "Will America ever be rich again?" Last night
    at dusk I untied the nylon knot on the bleached-pole
    nail and raised the Big Dipper toward the black hole
    in the sky. Now in the morning light

    the blue flag flutters against the spruce dark green
    toward the open sea. Off in the woods a mourning dove
    knits and pearls. I cannot measure the silence of this cove
    as the noon tide comes in. Overhead a single gull careens.


    You Came Up From The Tide Pool

    with a pocketful of periwinkles
    that Sunday morning in August
    before the wind shifted east
    and the blown petrels laced the darkening
    waves: sprinkles first,

    then a higher sea watermarking
    the seawall beach, then larch arms
    drunken across the window sky. At night
    the waning moon lighted
    the punky walkway from the car,

    and the tentative deer
    crossed silently toward the shore.


    A White Sailboat In Late July

    slides soundlessly behind the west Sister point
    as the grasshopper touches down and sailflutters up
    and settles on our deck. His ladyfinger flaps
    grind his own ax in the summer sun:

    relax. I watch his tucked wings mimic
    the rotting bleached-cracked spruce
    until he jumps the southwest breeze. Summer arithmetic
    in yellow blotches scars the blueberry sea.


    Markings

    Here in a rift of the island ledge
    I watch the morning shore. Voices
    from Red Point drift down, my children's
    play. It is late July, the tide
    is coming in. Effortlessly, a gull
    rises, drops a hermit crab on a rock

    and eats. White wings mark the rock
    among a million stones marked off by ledge:
    a seawall beach of stones, the color of gulls'
    eggs, basking. I cannot sound the voices
    in those stones. I count sails and tides,
    I count the days. I count the ways my children

    grow here by the shore before their own children
    come and go. My sons bounce rocks
    off bigger rocks into the sea—the tides
    will bring them back more round (even the ledges
    wear away). A schooner tacks, voices
    carry. Three jibs luff like flailing gulls.

    Last week an eagle flew by, harassed by gulls.
    We were eating supper. One of the children
    shouted, "The eagle!" We jumped up, our voices
    marking its flight across the beach rocks,
    over the spruces behind Red Point ledge—
    then it was gone like a speck into the tide.

    I watch the rockweed weaving in the tide.
    A southwest breeze blows up, two gulls
    take off. The gong off Sunken Money Ledge
    sounds its iron sound, unlike my children
    edging down the shore: they jump from rock
    to ledge to rock, calling. Their voices

    sound across the beach like porpoise voices
    sounding in the blue. They stare at the tide-
    line moving over the darkening rocks.
    They keep track of their day: gulls,
    boats, herons, seals—the way that children
    do. They wave, crossing behind my ledge.

    Summer children mark their island ways. The tide
    marks every rock along the beach. Soon the nearby gulls
    will watch from this ledge: I hear them now above my voice.


    Westward Of Swans Island

    off the Hockamock Head three miles:
    Sand Cove.
    We dove
    from our anchored sloop, freestyle-

    ing over the shallow ground shells
    finer then
    sand, ran
    the beach until our footprints fell

    into the tide. The August sun
    bore down.
    Rolling brown
    toggle buoys over the tons

    of shell grains baking in the curve
    of shore,
    we bore
    down too. The hard foam swerved,

    jumped hand to hand, touching each
    other, island
    to island.
    We sailed to Marshall Island on a close reach

    and played in the summer ways. We
    even found
    high aground
    a bottle with a letter, tossed into the sea

    four months before off the Tuckernuck Shoals
    buoy, mapped
    and capped
    with wax in Nantucket Sound by souls

    crossing in the spring on the underside of
    Massachusetts Bay
    the way
    we once had crossed, with wine and the love

    of the day. We hoisted sails before
    the beach.
    The reach
    of land called Devils's Head passed by. The shore

    of one island became the shore of the last:
    Scrag, Ringtown
    Gooseberry, John.
    We ran before the wind as the sea passed.


    Running, August 9, 1974

    A summer morning,
    my son and I are running the Red Point Road
    for time, for the early breeze,
    the half-high sun.
    Elsie Gillespie is picking raspberries
    by her barn-garage. She waves. Overhead
    the eagle from the Sisters winds slowly higher,
    pacing.
    Pace will bring us home. My son
    eases ahead in his long strides. There's a parked car
    off the road for blueberries: summer
    people. A bandana-head looks up from serious picking.

    Pacing. At the turn of the woods
    a crow jumps from the top of a spruce tree
    caw, cawing to cronies deeper in: they
    take off, protesting.
    I relax into pace, unclench
    my fists, try not to think of running.
    My son disappears down the hill
    through the Otter Pond swamp.
    I love my son. I will catch him if I can.

    Two miles—from the seawall field to Rosy Staples' house
    and back. (We will sit on the deck, pick
    berries by the shore, wade in the tide pool,
    breathe easy.)
    Pacing. The halfway mark, my son is coming
    back. We nod. Arms loose, legs
    easy, I am turning
    home. Pace will bring me home. I
    will not think of running. The island
    is cool and green, the day is long,
    my son is running like the rhyme,
    if you
    can, if
    you can, ...
    I'm running after the gingerbread man.


    The Lobsterman Off Red Point

    hauls his string of summer traps, and the buoys
    line the glass sea morning calm. Offshore
    the whistler's ten second moan sounds another
    story. Across the deck a small boy

    learns addition and subtraction in Chinese. Later
    he will make a drip castle on Fine Sand Beach
    as the tide goes out. But now the morning's summer
    eases into color and sound, teaching

    the calculus of tone. Yellow jackets
    prowl the railing spruce. Overhead a plane brackets
    the blue sky looking for herring. You read in the sun,
    your long black hair pony-tailed for fun.


    The Shoals Between Red Point And The Sister

    islands whiten the mid-channel
    darkline:
    foreground poplar coins

    rattle the fog flannel
    sky. Add
    wild roses and the lost gold mine

    near Black Point.
    My view
    is chartless, blue

    across the water's sheen. The shoals,
    fifteen feet
    down, anchor point

    the sailless sailboat's dream.


    Mid-Tide: Families Of Black Ducks

    dabble in the rockweed rising
    and lowering in gentle swells:
    soft

    squabble across the water, emphasizing
    summer calm. Below, brown bales
    of kelp

    unravel. When the ducks beeline
    for the rainbow pots
    beyond

    the ledge, heart green
    poplar dots
    enlarge

    the puzzle's theme. Nearby
    you teach a small boy words
    in late July.


    Duck Hunting With Kaimei At The Otter Ponds

    When the two Goldeneyes took off at the far end
    of the first pond, they headed west,
    then turned and came for the quarter moon
    behind me, bright white in the late November

    afternoon, rising like sixty over the blue stone
    beach under my feet gunning the best
    flap they could muster, already at max duck
    speed, the drake flying co-pilot six feet

    behind, although I confirmed that only with luck
    later, after I leaped the low tide channel
    to the rock island haired with kelp, and picked
    him from the soft lee of the deep water side

    belly up, moon white in a small funnel
    cave, rising and lowering in the soft lap
    of the incoming tide. There was a small
    red spot on one breast and a broken

    wing. When I handed him over, Kaimei
    handed me back my gun. The hen
    was re-crossing overhead in the first of three
    passes. "Did you hear me yell?" she

    asked. "I couldn't see you from the end of the beach."
    We watched the hen land oceanside, beyond gun's reach.


    Sister Islands Bay, Late August

    Blue bay, black crow, shadow
    spruce: the way the low
    gliding gull settles
    on the low tide meadow

    (black rockweed yellowing)
    wing lilting, feet first,
    underscores the tolling bell
    from the southwest, bellowing

    faintly from Long Island Plantation
    (mid-channel buoy
    or Sunday summoning) in the lee
    of my August imagination:

    the wingstill white descent,
    the un-seeming search
    of the solitary perch,
    the unplanned, imminent, re-ascent.


    Swans Island, Mid Summer

    My daughter is making bread. She kneads
    the dough. For two summers she has reached
    into the blue agate lobster pan, yeasty
    and flour dusty, blowing the perspiration
    from her upper lip. It's her business:
    enriched white, breakfast bread with raisins,
    onion rye. She stirs early and late,
    dumping flour bags, up to her elbows in a ten
    pound sog of dough, working it over, patting
    it, knifing through it, plumping

    it in eight pans for the oven. Little white
    fat stomachs that grow grow
    all in a row. I'm in the corner
    reading. Grumpy. She's Snow
    White, her black hair bunned, earning
    her keep. The island forest broods
    in the summer heat, the lobster boats
    creep around the shore at half-tide
    under tiny clouds of gulls. Islands

    and islands, the distraction of high
    summer. I lose count of my pages,
    her cupsfull
    of flour, her summers left.
    My eyes blur. I focus on everything
    that doesn't count. Reading lifts me
    off the page: I remember my mother
    stacking the rising loaves on the radiator
    under towels, my father holding a baked

    loaf in his hand, smelling it warm,
    kissing the topbrown crust: the fall
    of 1938 before the hurricane, a different
    season before the plot thickened and I left
    for good. Now I'm trying to read Theodore
    Roethke: my daughter is timing
    the loaves. I daydream of fishing,
    I imagine I pull up another self
    from the waters I sleep on
    in the dark, the pile of books I lounge

    over in the mid-morning sun. I think of
    telling my daughter that I love her,

    ooze in the half-commotion
    of half-remembered loves. I would bring
    a boar's heart to the queen. She
    slapdabs the tile counter with an ammonia-
    soaked cloth, tidies her wrapped and warm gambles
    in two cardboard boxes
    and heads off.

    On the table is a loaf for us.



Excerpted from Swans Island Buoys and Other Lines by Donald Junkins Copyright © 2010 by Donald Junkins. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

I....................1
"Approaches To Blue Hill Bay": Chart No 13313....................3
After Catching Mackerel Off Kent's Wharf....................5
Lines Begun Near The Shore In A High Wind....................6
The Night Island Wind....................7
Deep June Onshore, Opening Up....................9
You Came Up From The Tide Pool....................10
A White Sailboat In Late July....................11
Markings....................12
Westward Of Swans Island....................14
Running, August 9, 1974....................16
The Lobsterman Off Red Point....................18
The Shoals Between Red Point And The Sister....................19
Mid-Tide: Families Of Black Ducks....................20
Duck Hunting With Kaimei At The Otter Ponds....................21
Sister Islands Bay, Late August....................22
Swans Island, Mid Summer....................23
II....................25
Tasting Island Fruit....................27
Hauling Traps With Theodore: a Midnight Narrative At Low Tide....................29
Picking Blueberries With Uncle Harry A Month Before His Eightieth Birthday....................32
Ballade Of A Rowboat....................34
Crossing By Ferry....................35
Island Deer....................37
The Mid-Summer Crows Pause On The Rockweed....................38
Red Point: On the Edge of Summer....................39
Early Summer Sounds....................41
Island Birds....................42
The Morning Calm....................43
III....................45
Summer Math On Red Point Road....................47
The First Blue, After Fog....................48
Shifting Fog....................49
Drying Rockweed....................50
Birch Leaves....................51
Gray Wings In The Fog....................52
Our Morning View....................53
These Roses In Mid July....................54
Return To Swan's Island In Late Summer....................55
Fog Inventory After The August Rain....................56
From The Deck, The Third Day Of Fog....................57
Sput Staples Hauls Out In Front, Late Summer....................58
After The Late August Rain....................60
After The Late Summer Island Visit....................61
IV....................63
Lines For Kaimei During An Island Storm....................65
A Cormorant Swims By Our Tide Pool, Diving....................66
Maine High Summer: The Southwest Breeze Blows Diamonds....................67
The Eastern Shore....................68
Near The Ferry Landing, Mid-Summer....................69
From The Lighthouse As The Fog Comes In....................70
At The Draining Of The Quarry Pond....................71
Minturn: The View Across To Burntcoat Harbor Light....................72
Looking Across Mackerel Cove Into The Summer Fog....................73
Swan's Island: The Third Summer of the Iraq War....................74
Late Morning At The Water Lily Pond....................75
Toothacher Cove On The Old Abbott Road....................76
Crows In Fog....................77
The End Of August At Dead Man's Beach....................78
Giacometti At The Tide Pool....................79
James Gillespie, (Minesweeper YMS 82; Submarine USS Balao, 1942-1945)....................80
The Late Summer Cove....................81
Rose Hips Over The Deck....................82
Early Autumn View....................83
September Sunday Morning At Goose Pond....................84
The Birthday Cake: Remembering Clyde Torrey on Swan's Island....................85

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