Pris Campbell, US




Free Vese




Mary Jo sits on a cloud,
feet dangling, a wounded bird.
In his casket, Teddy opens one eye,
knows only she can see,
knows he's trapped in this formaldehyded
body, that no-one will hear his cries
as they lower him into the dark soil,
soil the very color of that earlier Vineyard water.

His penance, this awareness.
His road to redemption.
Sucking the last of the metallic air,
knowing no-one will come to pry open the lid.

Mary Jo cries,
tucks her legs beneath her.
She still loves him, felt
like Cinderella when he chose her,
unaware he would leave her shoes broken,
crown tumbling, then not return to claim her.

Angels rush to her side, heads bowed.
Her pulse floods the silent deep.



Free Verse


Poems from Sea Trails*


Sea Trails


"I must go down to the sea again…"

~John Masefield

I board the tiny sloop that has carried me
twice to Maine with its deep
silent harbors and moaning buoys.
I'm ensnared, trapped by increasing
longings to ride that magic carpet
into places different from my own
narrow world of nine to five rewind.
Saltwater rises through my body,
is transformed through its heat
into golden mist. I expand
without Alice's cookies,
become a gull dropping clams
on the rocks to crack them,
a molting lobster, a leaping dolphin,
a man watching the sky from a deserted dock.
The sea is my cradle and it rocks me,
lulling me into new ways of seeing.
My arms unfurl into sails.
I let the wind take me.





Tiller clutched between knees for steering,
crouched over, eyes scanning the horizon,
I nudge our bow towards the outreached boom.
When the wind finally loosens its grip,
I pull the line fast, hand over hand.
My legs become coils, balancing me
as we slide into the trough.
Today’s wind turns stronger than a trumpet’s wail,
and the boom pauses mid-ship, as if to warn me,
crosses over, until our mainsail strains white
against blue again. A Paul Newman sky.
The head of our little boat is crowning
into Newman’s eyes.
I’ve birthed her hundreds of times
just as she’s birthed me,
but each time is a new time.
Umbilical cut, we move towards the open sea.



Sea Speak


The Chesapeake opens beneath us,
a woman spreading her skirt wide
to greet the Atlantic, already throbbing
with September winds at her feet.
I learn to lay down a trot line,
haul hungry crabs to the surface, tossing
the lucky red-bellied females back.
I learn that fish gasp in upper Bay
pollution, that sea grass cries,
that watermen chug out at dawn past
clanging buoys and clearing mist
hoping to net their catch for the day.
I learn that heaven is right here
in these blue waters, the upside-down sky,
that the spirits of old sailors walk
on our bow at night, telling lost stories
about Tangier Isle, Shanks, Queens Ridge,
Piney Island. I learn how love
of the sea can rush right through you
with the wind, until your heart is translucent
with joy as intense as pain.



Aftermath: Thirty Years Later


I remain a child of the sea,
hobbled now with this illness
that netted me, still hear the sirens
calling and so I rise in the night,
thinking to adjust the anchor line,
make sure the boat hasn't slipped.
I rest my hand on the tiller,
watch the stars swell up in greeting,
feel the tide rock the boat again like a cradle.
I'm grateful I didn't wait, didn't
get stuck with only dreams to console me.
The scent of brine fills the room.
A strand of sea grass appears in my hand.
My sirens' parting gift before daybreak.



Pris Campbell, US and Geoff Sanderson, UKHaiga: light floods, arriving home


About Pris Campbell


Pris Campbell: Pris Campbell’s full-length book of poetry with accompanying log notes, Sea Trails, was published in the fall of 2009 by Lummox Press. Abrasions, her first book by Rank Stranger Press now has only a limited number of copies left. Interchangeable Goddesses, with Tammy Trendle, was published by Rose of Sharon, a press run by S.A. Griffin, editor of The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, and David Smith. Hesitant Commitments, was released 2008 by Lummox Press in its prestigious Little Red Book series.

Pris Campbell's poetry appears in journals such as Chiron Review, Main
Street Rag, The Cliffs: Soundings, Wild Goose Review, MiPo Productions, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Boxcar Poetry Review
. In 2008 and 2009, she was featured poet in Empowerment4Women, In The Fray and From East to West. Her haiga and haiku have appeared in Simply Haiku, Haigaonline. Moonset, Sketchbook, Ink, Sweat, and Tears and several other journals. Her poem in the spring 2007 issue of Boxcar won the Peer Award for the issue and was nominated by that journal for a 'Best of the Internet' Anthology. She was again nominated for that honor by two journals in 2009. Pris also was nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize (2008/2009). A former Clinical Psychologist and former sailor, sidelined by ME-CFS since 1990, she makes her home in the greater West Palm Beach, Florida, with her husband, a runaway dog, and a cat who sits on her poetry drafts.

Hesitant Commitments previously appeared in the Sketchbook Book Fair

*Sea Trails was featured in the July / August 2009 Sketchbook Book Fair









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