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Image by Reuben Teo


with the martello journal


by rick magee

The cliff points across the North Channel
to Scotland, hard stone promontories
rising cathedrally from glowing green
grass and moss.
“I want to go there,” he says,
his small face set between
determination and wonder.
And so we climb,
and I set my body between
the small explorer and the drop to the sea.

We play this game at every
place loaded with myth and meaning
for me.
I hear in those Irish names
my books
and passed along stories
about great grandparents.
For him, they are a feast

to feed the visions of a small hero.

His small hand seeks mine
on a rocky, muddy climb
and I can feel every
little bone and grasping muscle
and my heart hurts
as if he were squeezing
that rather than my hand.

From another cliff top
we can see from Skellig to Blasket.
He carries a twig found
lower on the path that in the climb
has turned into a key.
We search for a hidden door
in the piles of Irish stone.
One lichen-clad slab speaks
to us and we find the keyhole.
Who will be released?
Friend or foe?
Magician or mortal?
We are prepared:
a small flower plucked
as friendly favor.
A mystic token.
A plastic sword.

We battle an evil wizard
before new grounds call us away.
The cliff presents sharp
black teeth so I again
spread my arms as if
I could protect him always.
He laughs at my cruciform pose,
smiles with his turf-brown eyes.
“I’m okay, Daddy,” he says
punctuating that with a kiss
on my cheek.
I feel his soft vital body
against me,
smell the shampoo with which
I washed his hair this morning.

And wonder why love
feels so much like dying.

I am a native Californian who has lived on the East Coast of the US for over 25 years. I have recently had poems published in The American Journal of Poetry, The Madrigal, and Rough Diamond Poetry; I have two more poems that will come out later this month in Vocivia Magazine. My current project is a collection of poems based on place, and the three I am submitting now come from this. This past year I was named the Poet Laureate of Bethel, Connecticut. I teach literature and writing at Sacred Heart University, and my students have recently convinced me that we desperately need to have a poetry club for all of us who love language. I teach abroad at our campus in Dingle as often as I can.

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