Devon Marsh

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the poet

Devon Marsh served as a U.S. Navy pilot before a career in banking. His poems and essays have appeared in The Lake, Poydras Review, Black Bough Poetry, Split Rock Review, River Mouth Review, and periodicities: a journal of poetry and poetics. Devon lives in the North Carolina piedmont. He’s searching for a good home for his full-length collection.

the poems

Driftwood – Olympic Peninsula

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Children throw driftwood into the sea,

rebuking the wood’s audacity.

Limbs and trunks lie ashore, bonelike

rather than a severed part of forest. Yet

the skeleton-white logs pay homage

to shadow-black forms. Trees above wave-carved

cliffs oversee the beach. Tall firs look ahead.

The firs turn from the ocean, put breath

into the sky. They look back and think

again. Children cast pieces of trees

to withdraw with the tide and feign they won’t

return when we’re gone. Tall firs regard the sea.

They look back and think of me, know

I am of the forest even as rhythmic waves

pound within my veins. How many

will pulse the shore where I stand

rooted to a spot on the sand? I take evergreen

breath from the sky, look back, breathe again.

I watch my heirs, relish their audacity.

My children throw driftwood into the sea.

Own Fault

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Last night’s rain bowed the stream. Water cranes to peek

above the rim, see beyond the channel of its world.

On green hillsides, scattered orange firs resemble

derelict sculpture, ignored rather than poisoned,

like a forest erected when we built bridges that threaten

to collapse from negligence. How could we fail

to maintain our means of traverse? I would find

another way to you, swim a raging torrent, tasting

with each dip of my face the rusted tang of failure.

Distracted by thoughts of a crossing I won’t make,

it’s a verdant tree, lovely with life I curse when

I misjudge my cast. This is my own fault, no one else

to blame for a hook sunk to its barb in this summer’s

terminal growth. Wade ashore, cut the leader, leave

the mayfly perched above the current. Its name

Ephemeroptera—gives a nod to its day in the sun.

Tie on line, knot nymph to tippet, eye the yellow

slice of sky backed by faience, by cobalt.

I wade in, cast again, try not to squander light.

Around me, trees agree on a color for night.

Storm

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On the porch, close to 10:00 pm. Enjoying

red wine, lingering rain, thunder moving off,

songs of at least three types of frog.

Lightning flashes at greater and greater

intervals, building tolerance for a gap

that will carry to the next storm.

This is when I replay our conversation

wonder why you wondered

what I meant. And also wonder if

I should remark to you, inside, about

the storm as it subsides. Something obvious,

a point of sure agreement. The darkness

rather than what’s in it. With no flashes

I see the sheen of the screen. Pixeled black

covers the yard, drowns the pond,

obscures field and forest and sky. Night

tries to mist onto the porch like rain, pool

with shadows. The candle keeps it at bay.

I’m on the bright side listening to frogs,

replayed conversation, and receding thunder

until it’s time to blow out the flame.

Publishing credits

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