First Port

At no time in our past has the ATLANTIC received as many poems as are now submitted to us. They are evidence of an interest in poetry which never slackens. As an incentive for writers yet unestablished, we set aside a number of pages in our February and August issues to be devoted to the work of young poets.

To the turvy decks in the swells and to love’s
port and starboard
we were seventeen and in all ways green
when our maiden steamed in and we harbored
in a peace of poverty over the booming headlands
and the peril of coves;
plain plaid girls resonant with pride were sleeping
when the rumor of our smart destroyer
spread from the watch,
and they woke and chored early to come down peeping
and pass on through that chill dawn and the bright prayer
of Sunday how tan and how striding we towered toward them
as they shivered in the innocence of their catch
and their fathers of curfews sang out against sailors;
past the scallop sloops
in the mewing we climbed the slums in scattering troops
and slanted and shook on the bolt-loose wind in trams
to Sunday parks, panes of shut stores, beer and tattoo
in sawdust cellars
raucous with that voyage into everything new;
blind without neon, hot in the pride of our sowing
in that ruined old
serenity of squalling and sweet backwardness,
we sang our brown going
in the leaping warmth saved in that conservative cold.