Marc Swan

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Clay at Sea Buckthorn Farm

It’s a bumpy ride through rain
heavy at first then drizzle
when we arrive
at Sea Buckthorn Farm.
Clay in faded green overalls,
baseball cap soiled around the lid,
snug against his head,
thick-soled work boots,
is waiting to give us a tour.
Six thousand plants, twelve years:
weeding, watering, fertilizing, pruning,
with life as unpredictable
as a bad moon rising.
Yesterday his helper did a low dive
off the tractor when Clay shot
a defecating pigeon
on his barn roof with a .22.

Neighbors run a meth lab.
Last week they found two bodies
in a weed patch
off the access road.
One with fingertips
and tattoos removed
had been dragged face down
behind a pick-up truck.
The other he didn’t want to talk about.
Clay, a bull rider
in his heyday
with knees that tell the story,
says time to close down,
move to Fredericton
while I still can.


published in Speckled Trout Review 2022


Stale Smoke & Warm Memories

                        February 17, 1941 – January 17, 2021

Cold, parka and boots cold,
in front of the gas logs reading
a tribute issue to Gerald Locklin,
a poet with a smooth take
on this roller coaster ride we call life,
taught years at Long Beach State,
encouraged poetry and poets wherever
he went. I wonder at his thoughts
on my poems that slipped
through his fingertips
as a reader for Chiron Review.
Many on the life I experienced
on the Pacific coast—
Venice boardwalk, Silver Lake,
Hollywood Hills, Santa Monica pier,
weekend runs to Malibu,
Laguna, Huntington, sharing bottles
of low-rent red or Cuervo Gold,
smoking fat joints, long walks at dusk—
sand crunching beneath our feet.
Launching a Pacific catamaran
into salt spray on a simmering day—
when the wind died, floating hours
into San Pedro, talking shit
along the way. Local hangs—
Red Lion Tavern, The Mixer,
Barney’s Beanery, no name places
lost in the memory bank.
Meeting lively women 
in dimly lighted rooms,
eight ball or straight crackling the felt—
Locklin would have liked that.



Marc Swan lives in Coastal Maine. His poems have been in Wormwood Review, Exquisite Corpse, Chiron Review, SlipstreamToad Suck Review, among others. Recent publication in Gargoyle, Nerve Cowboy, The Atlanta Review, Crannóg. His fifth collection, all it would take, was published in 2020 by tall-lighthouse (UK).