Sailor’s Blue


The old sailors

down on the long tongues

of the Ballard locks are blue and gray

and sing, way-ee, way-ee

in the cold wind.


Knuckles fisted to their sides,

they tell stories by stones that glide effortlessly

two-feet above the dark bellies

of the rising channels.


Everything rendered in oil,

oil from the leaking Saab,

the swill and sludge from the bailing-out boat,

held up by stilts on land and half-filled with storms of December,

confused, the rainbows toil.


The oil in paint, in shades of leaks

I keep because they are from the Netherlands

and mend metal skies and deep bucket bottoms.

Oil in tubes I squeeze out like grief

onto large plates of glass

and smear into faces

from my past.


Everything remembered in oil,

the twill smell of cadmium red,

the rye that stayed with you

covered you inside,

and dotted your knuckles

you notice them as you eat a sandwich,

as we sip our Torrentes,

through which two dark eyes

are as dark as oil.


Oil as the stingray slices

to a surface that pools

perfectly still, a suffering incision

as quick as sailor seagulls

as cold as belly locks

the oil nighttime



Ballard breathes out.


Rob Jones




%d bloggers like this: