The Outdoor Poet: David Sullivan

This week's Outdoor Poet features transplanted Vermonter David Allen Sullivan, a Pushcart nominee who teaches film and literature at Cabrillo College.

The Outdoor Poet is edited by Robert Sward, author of multiple books of poetry including, most recently, New and Selected Poems: 1957-2011 (Red Hen Press). He lives on the Westside with his wife, artist Gloria Alford, and a poodle mix named Cosette. Participation in The Outdoor Poet is by invitation.

At the Mouth of the San Lorenzo

Three rain-flooded days.
The San Lorenzo surges
seaward, carrying

rafts of detritus
and driftwood, note-less bottles.
At my feet, shore sand

carves designs around
errant obstacles. The park’s
shut-down garish rides—

oiled machinery
drips like IV’s. Seaweed strand-
entangled white sheets

suggest discarded
bodies, and someone’s bag of dog poop
rests on the seawall’s edge

awaiting pick up.
Down here the ocean pushes
the river. Oranges

bob on wave crests, caught
on the lip between two worlds.
End of winter,

many garish paintings
still under canvas wrap. Soon workers
will come to test

the machinery.
No shrieks then, just gears and cursing.
A driftwood tipi

on the beach, collapsed,
but still the dug out hollow
for the bodies is there.

Spring will fill it up.
Oiled bodies will claim this land.
We’ll march towards summer

believing it’s our right
to be an empire in decline
dragging our damn heels,

as in a contest
where one side has prearranged
to let the others

fall by letting go
when the whistle blows. Ready?
Let hands grow empty.

Biographical Note David Sullivan's first book, Strong-Armed Angels, was published by Hummingbird Press, and two of its poems were read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a multi-voiced manuscript about the war in Iraq, was published by Telbot Bach. He's been nominated for a Pushcart, won the Bloodroot poetry contest, had his poems become part of the public poetry garden created in South Phoenix, chosen and read by Alberto Rios, and recently was awarded Morton Marcus Memorial Poetry Contest judged by Al Young. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his love, the historian Cherie Barkey, and their two children, Jules and Mina Barivan.