I live near Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal,

a toxic and fetid tidal estuary from its salted

harbor mouth to its abrupt industrial end.

It is my pixel of wilderness in the city.


Tonight I heard the night heron quawk—

Thought it was a ghost. Flight is silence,

a glimpse of white on the wing, a memory

out of reach, the perfect shadow.


Cormorants hunt the same water by day

They do not perch. They paddle low

in the water, wings cupped to torso,

eyes up, sudden arch, minimal ripple.


Disappear into the murky green.

The plunging pursuit of prey propelled

by black webbed feet. What persistence

it must take to hunt in such dismal silt.


Poets know the tired metaphor of truths

that lie beneath the surface. Know the patient

wait to snatch a glimpse of glimmer. But

to swim, to hunt in our turbid psyches,


where madness lurks, or doubloons wait,

takes a persistence of cormorants.


Gerald Wagoner

Gerald Wagoner, author of When Nothing Wild Remains, (Broadstone Books, 2023), and A Month of Someday, (Indolent Books, 2023) says his childhood was divided between Eastern Oregon and Cut Bank, Montana, where he was raised under the doctrine of benign neglect. Gerald has lived in Brooklyn, NY since 1982. He exhibited widely and taught Art & English for the NYC Department of Education. 2018: Visiting Poet Residency Brooklyn Navy Yard. 2019, 2021-23: Curator/ host of A Persistence of Cormorants, an outdoors reading series by the Gowanus Canal. 2023 April, Poets Afloat Mini-Residency, Waterfront Barge Museum. Education: U of Montana, BA Creative Writing, 1970, SUNY Albany, MA & MFA Sculpture Selected Publications:  Beltway Quarterly, BigCityLit, Blue Mountain Review, Cathexis Northwest Press, Night Heron Barks, Ocotillo Review, Right Hand Pointing, Maryland Literary Review.

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