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The harbor, or Confessions of a Backseat Driver


Okay, so I am.



I wish for the dew on our harbor’s grass

to rise, grab sail, tack

and hoist ships aloft, train hulls

upon lighter blues, new breakers.


I want a yacht that courses

and drifts on the air like my cursing.


Across the jetty, docks flirt with clunking bows

and someone drops a sledge—

now a saw, its wailing climbing the masts.  

A sparrow apes a hummingbird,


rotoring itself down a sycamore’s trunk.



Are we still okay?



Consider the damp grass wrecking my shoes,

grease-blackened chains slipping off thwarts,

papercuts where I grip the oars,

flies in my thermos of cold soup,

the cold soup,

cormorants oiled black as they skitter over the wake

and dive.



Good grief, what happened to us?



Orange, California

They planted the red-petaled oleander bushes

along the block wall, a creeping blush:

red oleander, some of the white,

leaves straight and drawn as spear-tips.


Children chew the leaves

covered in perpetual dust, then disappear.

The scaly branches around our court still climb.  


I still try to broaden,

to fork, to extend my stakes,

to run the Santiago Creek up Canon Street

and rumble with ochre mud and fennel—


Someday the junction box hidden by leaves will burst.  

Roots will reach phone lines.  Our

voices will fade like a cirrussed sky, like the way

gulls pinpoint themselves onto waves.

Jeffrey Tucker currently teaches English and creative writing in Utah. His first full-length collection of poetry, Kill February, was published in 2016 as the winner of Sage Hill Press’ Powder Horn Prize. His work has also appeared in venues such as riverSedge, Inscape, RHINO, South Dakota Review, and elsewhere. When not writing, he's working on breaking in new boots.

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