The Outdoor Poet: T. Mike Walker

Poems by the writer, painter, former San Francisco cop and Cabrillo College English teacher T. Mike Walker.


(Inspired by a postcard photo)

To get away from all the clamor,
she takes her cello to the pasture
where she plays until the cows come home.
Her hair sways in the wind of her making,
eyes closed to better feel the flow,
the inner vibrations and overtones
of the fugue that is playing her, when
quite suddenly, she opens her eyes to stare
into a pair of large brown eyes—ten cows
surround her, gazing, grazing, chewing
their cuds, their ears straight up, alert
to every moaning cello note, a bovine circle
of bobbing heads and swaying tails,
churning Bach into butter, milk into pails.

Beyond the Buoy

The wind has changed; clouds churn.
Out beyond the buoy deep waters wait.
No anchor here for my small boat,
Bobbing in the building swell. I turn;
My slim oars snag rough whitecaps
as we slowly claw toward shore
While below my craft dark shark eyes
Contemplate their fleeing bait.
The land is near, raw edge of beach,
Yet any unexpected wave could breach
My flimsy craft and drown my speech.
And so I pull and pray
And fix my firm intent upon the goal,
And row…and row!
Breakers build behind me,
Each one bigger than the one before;
then one lifts me gently through the jetty
like a firm and guiding hand straight
Past the hungry rocks into the harbor.
Once docked and safe again upon the land,
I looked back at the waves exploding
on those piles of rocks and felt quite small.
Where did they come from so suddenly,
those invisible currents swept by wind?
Our lives like feathers in the hand of fate,
While out beyond the buoy...
Deep waters wait.

About The Writer T. Mike Walker grew up in San Francisco and received his MA in Language Arts from San Francisco State University, where he taught creative writing from 1962-1965. From 1960-63 he worked full-time as a San Francisco policeman. From 1967-1968 he taught high school English in the Haight Ashbury District in San Francisco. From 1965 – 1968 Walker explored making collages and selling them through the Psychedelic Shop on Haight Street. Walker published three books based on his experiences: Voices From The Bottom of the World: A Policeman's Journal (Grove Press, 1970); Respect, Hippy High School in the Summer of Love (self-published, 2004), and The Butterfly Bride and Other Tales from a Wedding Minister. All three are available from

From 1968 - 1998 Walker taught English full-time at Cabrillo Community College. After he retired from teaching he returned to creating visual art. In addition to collage, he draws, and paints in watercolor, and acrylic. He has exhibited widely in Santa Cruz County for over a decade, appearing in many group and juried exhibitions, as well as solo shows. He co-creates collages via consignment for posters,book-covers, etc., writes poetry in his spare time and
plays keyboard at least an hour each day. He is also working on another novel. Find him at

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

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