Sea Sonnets

by Toni Mirosevich


risk: 1. exposure to the chance of injury or loss . . .
Greek rhiza, cliff, root (meaning to sail round a cliff)

Blue blade, the bow cuts the waves, straight-
edged, like a skate on ice, what’s the odds
she’ll topple? Survival at sea or a watery death,

it’s around the next bend. The boat curves
the coast then vanishes, past the point,
sails off, like a daughter invited to a dance,

who gets picked up at the curve by a greaseball
in a V-6. Can we risk it? The rudder wrapped
in seaweed, a boat cable wrapped around a leg,

the rogue wave or the rogue come a’courting?
It’s her maiden voyage, she’ll give it a go,
but SOS the dame is in distress and when

the boat returns, bloody and rent, a buddy asks,
“Tell us, was she seaworthy?”

Women’s Work
Pale our worry, oh so pink, it’s women’s work to calm the seas,
we picture wreck and crash and reef, then knit a net of worries
deep around the hull, lift the boat (our common cares), past tidal wave,
rocks can snare and toss a captain, crew below, we’ve seen it snow
their bodies down. Starboard, stem or bow and aft, women feel
a deadly draft, then live inside a soupy hell of watching vessels
buck and swell and swagger brief. (Even it makes us churlish,
men will say it keeps us girlish, this is what we’re meant to do,
walk the catwalk, fix the stew, moan at midnight, pray our prayers,
when the sea is in arrears, keep the books and light the light,
bankroll passage in the night of tanker, taxi, baker, spy,
throw the wind an evil eye, then stop that movie short.)

A lighthouse made of threaded prayers, incantations,
we’re well aware, that vigilance is key.


I long for more weather around us.
John Ashberry

CL. As a pane of glass. As your intentions. A low pressure
system (ìif you think about it, dear, can you pick up some milk?î)
He felt his arthritis acting up, a hitch in his gate, like a latch
key kid. On the coast theyíve posted small craft warnings.
(“Let’s decorate Clorox bottles!”) Oh the wayward wind, is
a restless wind. They tell me it’s a WN WN situation. The sea
level barometer reads 30.7. It’s a game of inches. You know
what they say: big boots, big forecast. Record low (after the
divorce) Record high (when she kissed me). “. . . in the south-
west after sunset. There is another planet here, one that is not
visible without optical aid Uranus. More tomorrow.” Later
today, a storm will move in, a cold front. Then, if we admit
our wrongdoing, partial clearing. If not, let it SN, let it SN,
let it SN.

CL = Clear
WN = Wind
SN = Snow

About the poet
Toni Mirosevich is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. She is the author of The Rooms We Make Our Own (Firebrand Books, 1996); co-author (with Charlotte Muse and Edward Smallfield) of Trio (Spector Press, 1995). She has published four collections of poetry, most recently Queer Street (Custom Words, 2005) and My Oblique Strategies (Pratt, Thorngate Road, 2005), which won the 2005 Frank O’Hara Chapbook Award. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in such journals as The Progressive, Five Fingers Review, Kenyon Review, Seattle Review, Best American Travel Writing, San Francisco Chronicle, Zyzzyva, LUNA, Crowd, and Web Del Sol. Her writing has been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing, 2002 (Houghton Mifflin, 2002); Against Certainty: Poets for Peace (Chapiteau Press, 2003); and The Impossible Will Take A Little While (Basic Books, 2004). New work is forthcoming in Puerto del Sol, The Journal, Speakeasy, and SF Chronicle Magazine. Honors include first place awards in San Francisco Bay Guardian Poetry Contest, Academy of American Poets, Americas Review Poetry Prize. National recipient of the Astraea Foundation Emerging Writer in Fiction Award, 1999. Residency, Willard R. Espy Literary Foundation at Oysterville, Washington, 2004. She has been nominated for a 2006 Pushcart Prize, and her recent fellowships include the MacDowell Colony, the Espy Literary Residency and the Djerassi Artists Colony. At San Francisco State University, Mirosevich served as Associate Director of the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives from 1996-1998.

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