Poems by Michael Campagnoli

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Loons: the dance

by Michael Campagnoli

From Canary Winter 2010-11

Michael lives in the St. George-Sheepscot Watershed along the coast of Maine, just past Gooseberry Nubble.

1

long April days
he waits
the lonely call unanswered

the worried hoot
the watched return

the risk
of oil slick
of mile-long nets
strangled in a haul of cod
thrown limp for chow
upon a bait bin

but comes the day
the splash and spray
the looked-for guest:

bills tucked
they kwuk
circle and cry
surface and dive
two sleek black heads
entwined

their wakes commingled

 

2

in tall grass near the water’s edge,
old nest, flattened by the weight of snow
made new by moss and salvaged sedge
assiduous

and two
soon brown-specked
green-brown eggs

appear
luminous

 

3

the wheel of black-backed gull
turtle’s vice-like grip
sea bass teeth
pickerel and pike
skunks and weasel
and hungry coon

amid cries of heron
and hermit thrush
two chicks
abound their mother’s back
and peep with life

where danger lurks

 

4

the sun
big, fat,
golden cat
implacable

boils heavy air
from the languid
and paludal gulf

even dragonflies
refuse to buzz

water soft with movement
misty fog, the chicks
so plump

can scarcely dive,
zig-zag
between their parents’ wake
and sail
the summer’s twilight

 

5

the Bog is red in August,
and grass-pinks and pitcher plants
in fours and fives
are veined so deep

the red is like a pumping blood

 

6

berries swell and seed heads burst
Queen Anne shimmers in the setting sun
Mosquitoes, black flies subside:

two large and clumsy
dull-grey birds
await
the male
and swim
like chicks to beg

a bounty

 

7

first frost has bruised the tender plants
and brush has turned to brackened brown
white bark bright yellow birch
abuts blue spruce
and deepened pine

chicks are nearly grown
flight feathers long and straight
whose weight exceeds its strength
who beat and thrash

but cannot fly

 

8

geese and ducks
have flown

hard rains have
blown the leafless trees

high above
two
circle once,
then blink from sight

the sun sinks
behind
a ragged ridge

shell ice rims
the water edge

young loons
remain
bereft
alone

in darkness
swim
long shadows

 

9

wings along the surface
flap

and rise

cushioned by the wild surmise
of lightless air
and boundless sky
trees and rocks and fields
recede behind
the cold cove ebbs to
silver shine

a small
flat pocket
in the dying light


Title poem from Michael's book (Pudding House Publications, 2008)



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