Stop Sign

In the garden in the back by the fence,
Toward the end of the narrow brick path
And near the shade of the bordering oaks,
The butterfly hovers in silence.
Skimming salvia, lantana, and milkweed,
Sampling flowers, cluster to cluster,
It alights on a young fire bush
Not two feet in front of me.
It spreads its wings out and then down
Till they lay on the orange red blossoms.
Fingers crossed, it will stay for a while;
I suspect I’ll not move till it’s gone.

Two Takes on a Foggy Morning on the Tolomato River


Distant docks emerge mysteriously
Through a gap in the fog’s heavy curtain,
Briefly causing ethereal feelings of wonder
Till the docks dissolve within swirling mists,
And we return to our business once again.


Isolated among the tall grasses which frame Poncho Creek and engrossed in my effort to catch a sea trout for dinner tonight, I failed to see the fog come rolling in over the eastern dunes of Vilano this morning. It’s most heavy now along the river to my south where both banks and even the bridge to the mainland are no longer visible, but it will thicken here as well soon enough, and though I’ll be sailing north and then east toward the Fourth Street beach near my home, I’ll not out race it if I don’t make haste.

I reel in my lines and secure my rods; I lift my anchor and push off from a muddy shore with an oar; then I raise my sail and steer my slow pram toward the channel. Clearing the mouth of the creek, I check north and south for oncoming boats, but there are none, and I suspect there won’t be many out this morning, if there are any at all.

Just as I look to the south, the docks by Boating Club Road emerge, revealed to me by a passing gap in the fog’s heavy curtain. And though I know these docks well—I have fished their pilings on occasion‑‑I am struck by the ethereal nature of their appearance, nonetheless. They float in the mists there, out of focus in a light that is neither bright nor somber, neither of the day nor of the night; as if they exist somewhat in this world and somewhat in some mysterious other. Perhaps they are a bridge between consciousness and dream, I ponder idly as I slowly make my way toward the channel, or how about a link between the present and the future or the present and the past, or even a link between life and death. What would that look like? I continue lightheartedly. And what would one learn from such connections? Would I be better or worse off?

No matter the original intent of my musings, these mythical and mystical notions now intrigue me and, Odysseus unbound, I am drawn to investigate. I pull on my tiller accordingly and come about south.

The wind‑‑now off the port bow‑‑no longer fills my sail, and a strong incoming tide pulls me back to the north. I tack to starboard to keep the sail full and am experiencing some success when, to my dismay, the docks fade away, swallowed by a dense swirling wall, which is now gaining speed and will soon envelope me in turn, robbing me of any sense of direction. Practically, there is nothing left to do now but to hurriedly come about once again and resume my original course north; yet, I make no move to do so.