The Manistee


1883. For five days
we hoped the storm that chained
us to Bayfield would free us—

Lake Superior, a man
dancing alone, knows every move,
yet who could guess his calm

when killing? Sun out,
we left, risking water’s
iron hooks. Waves

grew higher as we went farther
out, beyond the light,
where we remembered land

like childhood. Any other life,
dead letters and promises.
When the ship cracked

open, wind carried no messages,
our bodies lost. Our families
built absence a home.


1884. Fishermen find a silver spoon
engraved with “Manistee”
in a trout’s belly.


originally appeared in Porcupine (2001)

Published by

Kenneth Pobo

Kenneth Pobo has six full-length collections of poetry and, including Ice And Gaywings, twenty chapbooks. His latest book, from Blue Light Press, is called Bend Of Quiet, and Booking Rooms in the Kuiper Belt is forthcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press. Ken began writing at age fifteen. He teaches creative writing and English at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. He and his partner and two cats enjoy gardening, music, and the Wisconsin Northwoods. Catch Ken’s radio show, Obscure Oldies, on Saturdays from 6:00-8:30 pm EST at WDNR 89.5 FM.