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 gull in the fog watches the tide cove fill.
The outline of his breast against the grayer white
matches the froth of the wavelets breaking into the still
scene beneath his ledge. I cannot see beyond him into the bright

mist where two lobster boats work their lines
of traps, growling buoy to buoy. Occasionally
he flaps twice to the rising rockweed at the seawall
edge and bobs among the yellow soup. When he returns

to the ledge he seems to stare beyond the scene.
When the first wave breaks across his feet he lifts again
to the gentle shoreline calm. Closer now, I can discern
his gray wings tinged with black, his yellow beak. When

he dips straight down, his patience pays off. The boats have gone.
His old ledge has disappeared. The cove is calm.


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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at
%d bloggers like this: