Brandon Krieg

High tide pressed me
up into
        the yellow, invasive
Scotch broom

whose roots hold fast this
crumbling cliff.

Against root-give, I clung
        ever more urgently to the still,
voice—whose seeds

blew into me from 19c fields—
watching tankers drag

coal hillsides, tourist districts, shining decks
of cars past
                distant peaks,

and since this tide would not
        cut a hard path up the cliff,
made my way through vacationers

sauntering the green of a fin de siècle
fort. Where genteel, sympathetic

                murder was taught,
in haphazard rows,
children at art camp lounged with ice creams,         

laughing avidly. There must be a real
higher or harder
than this, I said,

and took the trail up to a bluff overlooking
international waters,

        walked the rim of the impregnable
        concrete walls of the abandoned

gun emplacements. This is a place, finally,

nothing can invade,
I thought—admiring

        the Mayan-monumentality

of phony deity—
I can build hard
                apprehension here.

Up a narrow ladder, I climbed
        into the watchtower,

shut the iron visor, and
        sat in ammonia-smelling dark

where deep and calm and perpetual
could never take.

Then Japanese fire-balloons
                        floated elegantly

past the long-range guns in this afterimage
of a state-park plaque, touching down

70 years ago
                in Montana forests, igniting
                a recent candidate's promise

of colonies on the moon.