Super Veterans

This lake’s shore is disturbed by cutters
and mowers at two-stroke Sunday work
of keeping back too much growth –

still their gig crew rolls through turns
of hard rudder and clean recoveries –
breaking out a wake and six puddles

Four – together – power – six – power through
cries their cox above Canadian chatter
from a disinterest of drifting geese

I wear a bench well – even at this age –
my practice of securing such comfort
in open spaces is my latest fascination –

along with finding a place to live
and other such micro matters in life
which pale under this sky – seated lakeside


Timings

You have chosen your strapped seat
to sit at – as you put out to sea

with bright paint and long blades –
to be pulled around buoy set points –

then to be steered without tipping
under rare blade clashes and shouts

but always matched to find a balance –
It is only in wished-for millpond conditions

with the most fabulous sunset
and equal drifts of morning stillness

that everything fits and clicks to timings
Enjoy that sweet run of symmetrical effort

A Crew

There is a slight run of resonance
with squared dips of catches –

it quickens with timed recoveries
along those rumbled turns

of leather-collared connections –
so that the forward lean-to-timings

lever everything to leant finishes
and the opening up of your lungs –

and we haven’t even talked
of power with the blade’s bowing –

We can master the cockboat’s turn
through hard rudder tips into the wind –

by finding strength in fixed ways –
by using the entry and exit in unison

Cox

Slipped backwards with a slight grumble
of keel complaints on that steep slope of gravel –
and our loose rudder is quick to shift – left or right –
as if kicking sullen under reversed ways –

its complaint is slowed – then dismissed
by my pull and straightening – my first correction –
We drift into being a crew as dry blades lower
into the fix of pins – set as bared pegs on a line –

You are the cold engine – me – a tugged-corrector
of your early misfires – of too-short reaches
and lax recoveries – they will tip our vessel
like a nervous fish in an ever-shrinking pool –

as we outgrow circling and find a desire for waves
and their high rises – then lives will depend
on us mere coxes – us shouters and fag-suckers –
we will need to read sea water – as if born to it


 

Sea Rowing

There – almost baiting us –
ten thousand wind-ripped
waves palpitated on the lake –
but they are merely
breeze-skipping ripples
for us would-be sea fishers
of much bigger catches –

We are required to practice
in such innocuous conditions –
this millpond darkened stew –
before that unknown swell
beyond our harbour wall –
where there are no hard tugs
of a circling gig’s rudder –

but instead sideways drifts
and cuts by undercurrents –
high sea arts to be mastered
in ungenerous conditions –
We will then be willed to shore
by pulls of oars and others’
fears – with salt on our lips
providing a taste of sea rowing