Where Gulls Round Up the Sky

The mobs of great cities add just so much
to the support of pure government as sores do
to the strength of the human body.

     —Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia

Lend me the stone strength of the past and I will lend you
The wings of the future.

     —Robinson Jeffers, “To the Rock That Will
     Be the Cornerstone of the House”

Gulls rodeo a westering wind up and down
the shore, aerial wizards, freedom riders,
winged wranglers of the bucking air.

This is the curriculum and there is Robinson Jeffers,
the gull-grey passion for stone, stalwart stone.
Here on the coast where manifest destiny ends,

men and women try to bronco a wilderness
where the wilderness rocks into blue,
the great forests cut into condominiums.

Thomas Jefferson, I call your name. I call
you back to the task; the roots and bones
of democracy splinter into charismatics

roping god. The yeoman farmer is a corporate
conglomerate; oil smears the mewing beaches.
Profiteers poison the franchise with packaging.

Mr. Jefferson, please telephone Mr. Jeffers:
may the two coasts meet minds at the century’s inception.
May the yuppie yeoperson learn classical composition

at evening, a maverick line of Kittiwakes scaling
the cliffs chromatic at Tillamook or maybe Monterrey.
Thus might the classic creed of stone enlighten us
and the salmon be saved for the gull-graced sea.



Tim Barnes

About Tim Barnes

Tim Barnes taught in the English Dept. at Portland Community College for twenty-five years. His most recent collection of poems is Definitions for a Lost Language. He is the co-editor of Wood Works: The Life and Writing of Charles Erskine Scott Wood and currently edits the Friends of William Stafford Newsletter."
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