Its boiling hot, they’ve gone to catch the wind
at high tide when you can sail the tidal river
above the sandbars, when the scope is wide
room to tack and reach, as we try to reach to the far
points in our life where you are the self you wish to be
away from the effigies others might prefer
beyond the expectations of correct behavior and pieties
free of the sand bars in our circumscribed environment
the enclosing freeways that bind us into pockets
webs of mercantile definition, malls of distance,
the all-together loneliness of the social web.
This is not the place for me.
Where can one go to be free of this American entrapment
where black and brown and white can live in harmony
where all beliefs, intellect and toil are respected,
was our Cape Ann like that, not entirely but enough
the classes did mix, brawls were plenty enough
but the morning light broke bright on sea calm water
where rancor stills and the gulls cry instead.
Perfection of a sort sadly doesn’t last
the tentacles of wealthy desire slowly penetrate
crawling over the bridge, tourists who end up staying
and driving up the rents, buying the cheap houses;
improving them twists the old mix out working people
can’t afford to be here any more, to smell the same sea
air, feel the tidal sweep over the marshes
swim in the warming creeks.
July 7, 2016
Kent Bowker started with poetry at Berkeley in the Fifties, then became a physicist working mainly in optics. His new book of poems is Katharsis: Sifting Through a Mormon Past. He lives in Essex, next to the Great Marshes and is treasurer of the Charles Olson Society.