A Poem Too Small to Keep?

Following my previous post, in which I presented a substantially pared down version of “Thoughts While Sitting Along the Lower Potomac,” a commenter said she liked the first version better and that the new version was a bit too esoteric. Was it too stripped down? Perhaps. Back to the writing tablet for a bit more revising. Here’s the new version, with copy edits noted:


Wind and waves hold power here,
resolute action is tidal.
Fish and crabs know nothing
about the left and right sides of aisles;
partisanship exists only with regard to bait.

Power is in the wind and waves.
Seen as an eagle circles over the water,
felt when easing a hook out of the mouth
of a fish too small to keep.

Rivers and creeks are the corridors
in which history is made;

History is measured in bushels, and in the size
and in the size of jimmies, rockfish, and blues,
rockfish and blues,
and the ones that got away.

The only monuments here
are stacks of crabpots,
piles of oyster shells,
an old deadrise sunk in a creek.
Marble is reserved for the graves
of watermen when they no longer
go out in boats at dawn.

There is tranquility here—
found on the river at dawn;
seen as an eagle circles out over the water;
felt when easing a hook out of the mouth
of a fish too small to keep.

We may think all that is important
lies upriver, along grand avenues,
in meeting rooms and marbled halls,
everything flows in this direction;
the lower pulls down the higher,
the way overcomes from below.

Everything flows in this direction.
The way overcomes from below.



2 thoughts on “A Poem Too Small to Keep?

  1. Glad you like it. I’m still not sure what the final version will be. When my wife read this version, she observed that the journal reviewer who provided comments really threw me for a loop. It’s true. The poem had been declined many times, but never before with comments. The reviewer’s comments, though, made me re-think the poem. I don’t think I’m done with it.

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