Charles Goodrich


The Beaver on Crowley Creek

Why has she gnawed off
thirty alders
and just left them on the bank?
Maybe she’s been trapped out,
or swum away to another stream.
Or maybe those trees
are just rough drafts,
apprentice work
not the masterpiece
she still has in mind.
for Frank and Jane Boyden



“The Douglas Squirrel …surpasses every other species in force of character, numbers, and extent of range, and in the amount of influence he brings to bear upon the health and distribution of the vast forests he inhabits. A King’s River Indian told me that they call him “Pillillooeet,” which, rapidly pronounced with the first syllable heavily accented, is not unlike the lusty exclamation he utters when excited.”
John Muir, The Mountains of California

Pillillooeet scrambles fast
face down
down the tree
shouts at me
like a manic
squeaky toy
leaves neat mounds
of spruce cone scales
on each stair tread
call it artistic
debris or just eloquent
what he’s after
is the seed
same as me


Winter Solstice at Road’s End
Tide’s out. Setting sun
gleams like blood on the breakers.
Those orange lights
on the far horizon
must be fishing boats.
Last week a crabber capsized
on the bar at Coos Bay,
the skipper drowned. The coho run
is supposed to be up this year,
sockeyes down.
The wide beach is nearly empty,
just a pair of staggering lovers
and an old woman in rubber boots.
I watch a rivulet
spill from its pipe in the bluff,
fan out across the sand
in shifting channels
like a prostrate tree
or the nerves in a body,
a mock river flowing down to the shore.
Where the fetid drainwater
merges with the surf,
a few seagulls wait,
hoping to feed
on whatever life the trickle bears.


Into the Wind
Alley-cats of the sand. Beach
bum birds. Avian spawn of garbage dumps.
Those pretty white spatters all over the parking lot
are their artwork. The one thing I can say for seagulls:
those week-old donuts the bag lady is throwing out for them
they deserve.
On the other hand, yesterday I was out on the jetty,
and a seagull jetted past me, cutting at sixty miles an hour
into the wind. How does it do that? Does it find some seam in the air
it can slide through without resistance? Can it do some kind of jiu-jitsu
that rolls the wind around its wings
to push it from behind?
Whatever it does,
I want some. Seems like my life
is getting down to old donuts and shit on the sidewalk.
I have no idea where I’m going, but if I could just
cut through this headwind,
I could get there faster.



Charles Goodrich is the author of three volumes of poems, Going to Seed: Dispatches from the Garden, Insects of South Corvallis, and, just out from Silverfish Review Press, A Scripture of Crows, and a collection of essays about nature, parenting, and building their house, The Practice of Home.