Poem by John FitzGerald
Titlow Beach near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
has at least a mile of trails, some wending into the woods.
Fox Island and Puget Sound dominate the skyline,
in Rainier’s lap, with a view of the Olympic Mountains.
Bald eagles, cormorants, kingfishers, porpoises, and seals
are common sights. Once there was an ostrich farm nearby.
Ferries from Wollochet Bay, Day Island,
and the other inlets thrived.
Joe Smith chooses this enchanted spot to bury his diary.
Walks off the beaten path into the groves of evergreens
and digs a grave for his casket of ink.
He sees starlings, crows, and gulls, but misses more.
Every animal that can move is always doing something.
Even when it stops, that’s what it’s doing, stopping,
then sleeping, then waking, then walking, until it dies.
Every movement seeks immediate pleasure or avoidance of pain.
Consciousness here is awareness
of the connection between moving and doing.
Joe Smith is sad. It’s not enough to survive.
We must thrive, or why bother.
If humankind boils down to survivalists without art,
he’d just as soon go extinct.
Life might as well mean death.
He cannot stop resisting or he’ll become part of the plan.
Joe Smith was happier when he believed in magic.
He waved at the ocean and it waved back.
Thought little was unsayable if he made up enough words,
and could find the pattern in a single occurrence.
Now he suffers an ignorance crowded out by information.
They can kiss my ass. I quit!
He bids a silent goodbye to his journal and cries.
Maybe he’ll come back one day, who knows.
John FitzGerald is a poet, writer, editor, and attorney for the disabled in Los Angeles. A dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland, he attended the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, where he was editor of the Law Review. He is the author of four books, more recently Favorite Bedtime Stories (Salmon Poetry, 2014), Finalist for the Julie Suk Book Award, and The Mind (Salmon Poetry, 2011) semifinalist for the Alice James Book Award. Other works include Primate, a novel & screenplay, and the non-fiction For All I Know.
He has contributed to many anthologies, notably The Plume Anthology of Poetry 5 (2017), Even the Daybreak: 35 Years of Salmon Poetry (2016), Human and Inhuman Monstrous Poems (2015), Rubicon: Words and Art inspired by Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis (2015), From the Four-Chambered Heart: In Tribute to Anais Nin (2013), Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology (2011), and Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Publishing it (2009). Other publications include The Warwick Review, World Literature Today, The Taos Journal of Poetry and Art, December Magazine, From the Fishouse, Mad Hatters’ Review, Barnwood Mag, and The American Journal of Poetry.