King and Other Poems
for Nik Zeidlhack, 1981–2007
I go to the guardrail, looking out over the sea foam.
Looking out over the salmon heads breaking
the waves. Muscling back to the place of their birth.
Trapped in the floodlights, failing to leap up the dam.
Sometimes the clarity. Sometimes the clarity
and night-river steaming. Time standing still
in its permanent memory. Flies in the backwater
gathered to feed on the skin. The smell of the ocean.
The waters combining with other more powerful
waters. Riding away from whatever would save them,
knowing the other direction is pointless and not worth
suffering through. What holds us together but also
what trembles. The first time you look at an actual lion,
pacing the length of its cage. The small irreversible
ink stain breaking the face of whatever we skate on.