Kodiak Salmon Packers and Cardinal Points 

by Caleb Nichols

Kodiak Salmon Packers

This far north, June glooms so thick

it clouds into fine rainfall.

Mountains as big as Mountains

can be; fat, pink salmon swimming

down the line’s sea of knives—  not

the stream they had intended.

The sharp smell of blood; of tin

cans popping on the dock; of

rubber-booted men in retort steam

lined up at midnight— grubby

ruddy, oil-slick, sleepless

men as big as men can be

rough-edged, jagged, whiskey tough

queued & waiting for a cup

of something sweet or bitter

even if it’s just the dregs.

Drifting off to sleep a soft

low voice seams the indigo

depths of the bunkhouse: I wish

there was something exciting

we could do & then a slow

steady reaching through the pale

summer-near Alaskan dawn

& the feeling of falling—

as gentle summer rain.

Cardinal Points

I femme & masc

by moons

my wax my wane

the waysinwhich

desire forms

a push pull loop

we’re a dialectic

bro, an ouroboros

two points

on an elliptic

that blue’s as blue

as a cardinal is red

you said that

in one of your moods

at dusk you poet

like no other

and I want to

barrel into you

like waves edge

in as they ebb

as they lift

as they carry

us out. & yeah

I’m older

for younger

for you.


Caleb Nichols (he/they) is a writer, musician, and librarian from California, occupying Tilhini, the Place of the Full Moon, the unceded territory of the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini tribe. His poetry has been featured in Hoax, Redivider, perhappened mag, and DEAR Poetry Journal, among other publications and his chapbook “Teems///\\\Recedes” is forthcoming from Kelp Books. Caleb is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Bangor University in Wales and is the founder of SLO Book Bike, a queer-owned, bike-powered, pop-up bookshop in San Luis Obispo.