Matthew Campbell Roberts was born in
Sally Albiso is a Pushcart Prize nominee, a William Stafford Award honorable mention, and winner of The Comstock Review's 2007 Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Award. Her poems have appeared or will be forthcoming in Blood Orange Review, Cascade: an anthology of the Washington Poets Association, Crab Creek Review, Pontoon: an anthology of Washington state poets #7, 8, and 10, Rattle, The Comstock Review, and Tidepools.
Some Waters, Some People, Some Time Ago
currents still sing
Hell over tree farms and log-offs
Believe they will once again breathe steelhead
and cigarette shops will sell-out ghost shrimp,
flip cardboard signs to read,
“Assorted spin-n-glows ten for a buck.”
These aren’t the day dreams of lawn chair warriors
whose lovers left when salmon runs plundered
promises of days along the dike plunking,
trading brine recipes and smoking fish
while trailer axles – shot from neglect -
rest their dreams on shot mill-ends.
You guessed half this already you’ll still live there
jigging herring off Port Dalco on the slack,
watching glass runabouts mooch by,
remembering past scales of salt-dried gunnels
where gill-rakers bled streaks from bluebacks
of old wars, when you had to, but left it at that.
Don’t forget what matters either.
Once is only the last time you felt young
before chrome flashers - oxidized
when thumb drags and knuckle busters
ran the gamut for kings and silvers.
Those were different days though,
before Black Velvet nights kept you warm
taught you how to drown-out train tunnels,
and kick the tide-rip’s sheen away,
cursing those sleeping waters that brought you home.
Matthew Campbell Roberts
The forked stick in his hands
lures him toward the broken pipe’s seeping,
like a shark dowsing prey
from under sand, the movement
toward subliminal weeping,
what weeks of digging might never have found.
And if I’d sought your ovaries
with a divining rod, my arms tugged
toward their polluted draining,
you might still live, mostly water, after all:
what we float in before birth,
lit and throbbing like navigational markers.
The douser advances,
holding the splayed limb before him
as if blinded, feels for the earth’s magnetic pulse,
a tide rising beneath his fingertips,
whether divination or what the body wills,
the wand points down.
But your dying coursed on,
undetected, your malignant wellspring
that crushed organs like pipes
beneath layers of rock, your belly
gravid with weight, your bruised tubing,
the ovum from which I sprung
twisted like that branch in the dowser’s grasp,
a reckoning we can’t ignore,
able at last to stop the flooding,
now we’ve found it’s source:
all that lies beneath the surface, sustaining, destroying.
My Sister’s Daughter
sister fell off a mountain.
As she passed by me on her way down,
without a thought my arm swung
out and fingers reached her jacket--
bringing her to rest.
Today my left
palm itches, and I wonder why
the birds are ignoring the feeder.
On the table in front of me there's a photograph
of a newborn, still braceleted
with hospital ID.
She has made a fist. Her dark eyes seem focused
on the inner world, the recent realm
of the womb. Does she know she’s falling?
Is there someone she’s trying to save?