Seattle, Washington

30 September 2006

Four Poems

FERN HILL Decompositions
Rowing Coach Curse, to Commence on my Signal
Ida Biirkeland: A Life
You're Afraid to Lose Yourself But There's Some Question About Who You

Poet's Bio


fern hill decompositions


the sun was
high as the house
the horses

the sun
must have been

the house


under stars
   the dark

cock all

simple rising


I was
the rivers
the light
green barns
the happy singing
     the sun
I the calves
the foxes
the holy streams


it was lovely


rowing coach curse, to commence on my signal

For taking Julia from stroke
May Nicholas of Myra
Protector of the wronged send you
Nightmares of the Grace skittering
Off the trailer at high speed

May your launch swamp
May your jumpsuit unzip in the wind
May your rigging tool crumble to rust
And may coxboxes rise in your throat
Whenever you call a set

May you be plagued with
Simultaneous menses in your varsity eight
May your cox be overweight
May the team’s loyalty fall from you
Like water off an oar blade

Pinched lip punch deliverer
May Lake Samish roil
Squalls spoil practice and
May the launch dock sink
At your every step

May caught crabs and unset boats
Ruin regattas may your team
Never capture the Blue Cup
And national victory evade you
As photos of past wins fade

May you never in all your coaching
Experience a fiercer heart
A stronger resolve a more
Team-bent stroke than Julia
You know you never will.


ida biirkeland: a life

Kristian Biirkeland discovered
the Northern Lights are caused
by magnetized particles hurtling

away from the sun. He was drawn,
when they were both middle aged,
to a school teacher named Ida.

Once she married, she was not
allowed to work; Biirkeland
bought her a cat, she furnished

their house. He went north to invent
the nitrogen furnace, south to
Egypt, then forgot to come home.


you're afraid to lose yourself but there's some question about who you are

you’re hucking lit matches
into the sink
when the dishes catch fire.

Smoky cat pads
into the dark room
whispers, “your kitchen
is on fire.”
Furry animals mount sky:
spotted whales, mountain sheep.
The cat lifts you
under your arms,
you dog paddle effortlessly.
She holds you,
strong as a man with almond eyes.

What martial art
must you learn to
stop someone lifting
you under the arms?

Forget immobility, crutches,
slits cut into the sides of your thighs
titanium replacing bone.
Flying over the scene of surgery
out of body as the dead,
garage door to the dark open,
waking to your voice screaming
“I don’t remember my dreams.”

Don’t write about the black
as you fly above the pool,
turn away from the dishes
you cannot possibly clean.
Outside is the pool
but the black is there too.

You’re afraid to lose yourself
but there’s some question
about who you are.

dishes pile
in the porcelain sink
you’re afraid your kitchen
will catch fire.
You will not allow yourself
to take flight
in anyone else’s arms,
glare at your mate,
pass the peas.

If you stay in this room
you will light the kitchen on fire.

You lift into sky above the pool,
waggle your wings left for
yellow right for blue,
              try to do it again,
and you can.



Laura GamachePoetry by Seattle poet and educator LAURA GAMACHE has appeared or will soon appear in Crab Creek Review, Heliotrope, Pontoon 7, and other journals, and online in Avatar Review 6. Her prose has appeared in anthologies including In My Life: Encounters with the Beatles, Classics in the Classroom, and The North Atlantic Review. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington in 1993, and directed the Writers in the Schools program there for nine years. Laura teaches creative writing through Seattle Arts & Lectures WITS and other programs. She was selected to participate in the Jack Straw Writers Program’s Tenth Anniversary Celebration in 2006, having been a JSWP participant in 1999 and 2002. Her chapbook, nothing to hold onto, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2005. She frequently gives readings in the Seattle area.