Poetry - Issue 21 | October 2014

Two poems by Bill Yake

Baja Noir

We beach our kayaks on the sand-
stone Punta Gata, its articulated
cliffs burnt to the ferrous tint of coals

and crab shells. Sleek vultures perch
on huge, white whale vertebrae:
sperm remains, backbones. Among

boulders, isopods work the shadows,
skitter like loose fingers till the full
moon, flattened as fire, rises

from the sea and this self-same
sea rolls back from freshly unmarked
sands. It’s dusk and crepuscular

coyotes trot the beach; long-legged
green-crabs scramble from their womb-
burrows to sketch plural excursions

beneath the broadcast, moon-struck
sea-birds who have all altered all
the protocols of night to seize

lithe moon-lit minnows whole.
Behold, beached cuttlefish and hefty
squid ink the wave-lap.

Scorpions, with pincers, fluoresce
in the stranded wrack—a hidden,
delicate lethality—

till, at dawn, an inland-dented pickup
creeps to market so full of oranges
its bed thuds, scrapes, shoots sparks

as the west-setting moon, all up
and down this harsh and fecund
coast, settles into empty cactus arms.

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About the author

Bill has identified butterflies outside the illustrated Paleolithic caves of the Pyrenees, encountered wind witches in the Alvord Desert and wigmen in New Guinea, traded songs in the Peruvian Amazon, and eaten couscous and roasted goat gonads in Tunisia. His poems mainly show up in magazines and anthologies serving the environmental and literary communities—from Wilderness Magazine to Anthropology and Humanism and from Rattle to ISLE. His two collections of poetry, This Old Riddle: Cormorants and Rain (2003) and Unfurl, Kite, and Veer (2010) are published by Radiolarian Press.

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