“Salt,” “Like a Foolish Man” and “Skipping Stones”

“Salt,” “Like a Foolish Man” and “Skipping Stones”

“Salt,” “Like a Foolish Man” and “Skipping Stones”


All the salt in the world comes from the sea.

That’s why we tunnel under the Great Lakes,

To chip away a seabed that now flakes

Beneath hydraulic steel machinery.

That’s why our salty tears eternally

Burn our clenched eyes. Or why the body aches,

With each step, with each breath, and trembles and shakes,

As we sweat the salt inside us. So we,

You and me, built, as far from shores, a home

Where rivers run backwards when the earthquakes,

As if time reversed by divine decree.

What we took as ground was nothing but foam

That dissolved beneath our feet. The sea takes.

The sea gives. All that was will always be.

Like a foolish man

The town of Kingdom stands on sinking land.

A web of railroad tracks holds things in place:

The steel works, diner, drive-in, Saving Grace

Reformed Baptist Church, itself raised on sand

Of an oxbow lake. As a boy, I’d stand

On top the banks of railroad tracks and brace

Against the train that even shook the space

Between the sharp wheels and my outstretched hand.

The earth swayed. I could taste it on my breath,

The risk, the taunting of a seeming stable

World. It was as if the train were a knife

That cut the thread that bound me, so unable

I was, I am, to accept foregone death,

Inevitable fragility of life.

Skipping Stones

The skipping of stones

Depends on the choosing

Water-smoothed stones

Cradled in thumb and forefinger

(it’s more the flick of the wrist

Than the whip of the arm),

Only to watch in amazement

Water-smoothed stones

Sink beneath rippled water,

Amazement our wooden efforts

Could not crack petrified laws of nature,

Could not make stone walk upon water.

About the Author

Richard Stimac

Richard Stimac is influenced by 20th century poets who used traditional forms to explore contemporary life. He is also influenced by the local St. Louis landscape of water and stone, dominating metaphors in his poetry for movement and rest and the relationship of time to both. He lives in Maplewood, Missouri, with his cat, Mr. Leo, short for Leonidas, king of the Spartans at Thermopylae. Richard has published poetry in Sou’wester and Michigan Quarterly Review and a scholarly article on Willa Cather in The Midwest Quarterly.

Read more work by Richard Stimac.