Tom Kessler, Stockton Island, 1887

No one back in Louisville asks
if I’m happy. They pity me,
alone, long winters, no family.

Logging. We scratch ourselves raw
from mosquitoes. Saws cut off
fingers, limbs. Many pack up
for warmer places,
not a city of hardwoods.

Stockton Island surrenders
fall and spring quickly. Winter
ice turns shores jagged.
If I had a son, would I
tell him to try this work?
He’d have to like hearing
wind in trees, smelling peat,

wood smoke, oxen. The company’s
hitting hard times, men
laid off and fired. Maybe
I’m next. What to do
when I leave? I’m full

of trees, birds, the coming
of spring when Superior thaws.


originally appeared in Philadelphia Poets (2003)

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.