Near Gale
Peter Vanderberg

May 15, 2014


                   Wind Force 7:       White foam streaks off breakers.
                   Whole trees moving, resistance felt walking against wind
.

 
 
Between imagination & truth                   memory grew fingers
          in my mother’s womb  as she wrote
her final college paper:          The Ripples
of Surrender — Japanese Literature After World War II
.
 
                             Every cup of tea became ceremony.
 
Mother-writer              thinking over horizons
          of psyche             took sides with a people
her father was sent to kill.
She shared           their death-resistance
against the conquest                           of American men.
 
           Her first child was birthed under threat of the knife.
 
Asian Studies called                            from high bookshelves
                      over games of war & backyard adventure.
Tall enough to reach               I found Bushido              & mountains
          of recluse poems
                                scratched                on trees & temple walls.
 
               Strange prophesy — water-bound son,
reading haiku                            off the coast of Pakistan
            standing watch so his ship doesn’t          drag anchor
or loosen the grip of deterrence.                  I am the gray warship
                      between their children                         & the winded sea.
 
            I am insignificant.
                                                                I am writing to apologize.


Peter Vanderberg served in the US Navy from 1999 – 2003 and received a MFA from Queens College, CUNY.  His work has appeared in CURA, Ozone Park, Newtown Literaryand in collaboration with his brother James’ paintings in their book, Weather-Eye.  He teaches at St. John’s Preparatory and Hofstra University.

What motivates him to create?
“I write poems to figure things out.  Whether it be a moment from my past, a natural phenomenon or a passage from scripture, writing helps me to find a personal truth.  At the least, writing helps me to think and live more deeply.”