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Charles Goodrich

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 drainwate

rmerges 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.