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. 


The intermittent sun glare from the boat hauling traps
off the Plantation shore measures the high gaps
in the cirro-cumulus clouds slowly moving east,
though the barely perceptible breeze off the water comes back west,

with its fresh morning smell. The tops of the shore spruce
are sentinel-still, fathomable only to the garrulous
crows who abide momentarily on their serious
migration deeper into the woods. Whatever truce

they reach is private, unrelated to the crosswinds
of July. I too accept the calm between,
crow-like in my own way, beneath the high easterly scene
of cotton tinged with blue and the salt cool breeze. I find

this surface scene as laden with mystery and certitude
as last night’s dream where I found myself
in a turbulent land before a way home appeared. The shelf
of clouds drifts east; two dolphins cut the surface of this morning mood.


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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