I once worked in international publishing, travelled Latin America while living in Brazil. My poems were written in English, a few in Spanish. Their time and place were hotels in distant cities, or on the planes that flew there. My retirement home is a condo overlooking Tampa Bay, Florida. Recently I launched a poetry website/blog, three by 3 — http://michaeljbates.com/
NOTE: The exhibit at the art gallery was titled "Artifacts of the Sea". What impressed me most was a collection of lighthouses, porcelain replicas rendered so convincingly I wanted to put them into words. Although "By Design and On Purpose" was written ten years ago and submitted many times, the poem was never accepted. I consider it My Best Unpublished Poem.
By Design and On Purpose
For Leslie Kingston
Lighthouses are put there to stay.
In no way should they
at any time, go off fishing,
out for lunch, look forward
to holidays—none on the horizon.
If they did, who’d warn boats
about local currents,
which ones spit shoals,
which braid channels?
Likewise, lighthouses are put there to last.
Above all, they’re trussworthy spines
of steel rolled in concrete—
tons of each—raised to face
sunstroke one day, wind bites another,
no turning away
from whatever the weather wants.
How long should they soar?
As big and bright as possible
without much upkeep:
a change of lenses,
lamps nightly, after blackouts, new fuses.
On paper—technically blueprints—
lighthouses are rendered
with reliability in mind.
From top down, they’re designed
to hold their ground,
stand fast on a cliff
or bluff, be seen
for miles, over and over.
©2019 Michael Bates
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