Poet’s Corner: The Canyon Runner


By James Lowell


for Grant Gelette

Here on Pope’s Island,

the Foxy Lady’s

down-at-heel strip joint,

fronts Niemiec’s shipyard’s

old hulls on the hard,

rusting in time’s tide

antifoul bottoms

sulking, reflecting

on the sea dancer

idling below them.

In her breeze ruffled

slip, silt rivulets

snake from Weepecket,

through the hurricane

barrier into

New Bedford’s fabled

fleet’s harbor as gusts

guttering rattle

the hermit bridge grate,

as this fish raiser

securely refuels.

Shapely and proud-bowed,

unbowed outriggers

dance in the seamount

wake of wave hammered

inbound and outbound

dredgers and draggers.

Her eye-catching chines,

sea-knifing deadrise

still lure deckhands

and greenhorns catching

only each other

in waxed reflection.

Like she is straining

on her taut dock lines,

bull in the chute’s pen

her engines snorting,

ride-angling to buck

past Quicks Hole’s ocean.

Her gunwale shudders

as if a Bluefin

chasing skirt teasers’

green machine glitter,

head jetting smoke trails,

cedar sea strikers,

or piano wires

lit with plucked Makos

finned from her chum slick’s

tail-blasted transom,

head shaking, ravaged

down to the unbent

blood dripping aught hooks.

At dock, impatient,

her lines shark singing,

whining, divining

in melon scented

canyon deep tremors

off jealous shrimp boats

airing fish rumors,

in well-schooled holders

rods swivel seaward.

Against shore cleat’s hold,

her bilge pumps run dry,

her fuel tanks topped up,

her deck swabbed pristine,

soon beyond longing

she’ll rise to wave strut

and make her living.


Jim Lowell is a winter mainlander and summer Cuttyhunk poet whose works have appeared in the Canadian Review of Literature, English, the Caribbean Writer, and elsewhere.