Donald Junkins Red Point Journal: Swan’s Island, Summer 2001

This spring, the passing of our former poetry editor Donald Junkins saddened the NDQ community. Junkins was a poet, educator, and editor both for the Quarterly and the Massachusetts Review. In recognition of his contributions to NDQ and his work, we thought we’d republish a collection of his poems from NDQ 70.2 (Spring 2003).

“Red Point Journal: Swan’s Island, Summer 2001” is a series of sixteen poems that interlace the landscape of Swan’s Island in Maine with personal reflections. The glare of the sun, the smell of summer rain, and the coastal fogs frame the interplay of the past and present in Junkins’s seaside reveries. We will publish the poems on the dates included in their titles inviting readers to back to Junkins’s vision of Swan’s Island 20 years later. 


On this late morning in late June
two yellow butterflies traverse the beach peas
where the seawall begins.
Mourning doves sound in the air. I can see

Long Island Plantation, darker blue above the sun glare
sea, behind the closer Sister Island’s darker green,
beyond the tide rip glaze, that intermittent creamy
mid-tide roil off Red Point’s hogback shore.

We have come again to our tidal cove
of greens and blues. One poplar remains
among our shoreline spruce; its leaves
from my childhood story book flutter like coins.

Our last son at home is in China, on his way
to Shanxi to see the Buddhist shrines
color the hills. Here, a nearby birch divides like a tuning
fork before me, beyond my reach, just out of play.


To read more about Donald Junkins see his obituaries in the Boston Globe and at UMass-Amherst.

As you likely know, these days are particularly challenging for many cultural institutions, publishers, and little magazines. So even if NDQ doesn’t float your boat, If you can, consider buying a book from a small presssubscribing to a literary journal (like our UNP stablemate, Hotel Amerika), or otherwise supporting the arts.

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