One of our dear editors died in his sleep January 27. J. Wesley Clark published some 400 poems in a writing career that began in El Paso and Mexico City as a stringer for the wire services in the early 1960s. Prior to that, he served with the 82nd Airborne as a paratrooper. Clark was chiefly influenced by the poets who preceded his own Beat generation, especially Randall Jarrell and Elizabeth Bishop. His poem Afloat, originally published in Galley Sail magazine, has a whisper of Elizabeth Bishop in its wake.
Chesapeake Bay & South River–1974
Lights ashore like cinders blown along the coast.
Lights blinking their weary eyes at me. I’ve counted
a hundred & twenty lights, dimly shining on the violet
sands, broken & sieved by cord grass.
I swivel the bow-light across the black waters, searching
for the white froth the fish make on the surface of the bay
as they fly towards the river.
I don’t try to catch the fish with the steel-lines baited
with surgical hose. I’m waiting for them to spawn.
Like me, I want them to feel safe in this place.