Writer’s symposium, Cafe Con Leche & Tamara’s Boutique, Apalachicola USA, 25 Apr 14. Poem written March 2009.
“Ode To Apalach” by Frederic Kahler, St. Patrick’s Day 2009
The gulls of Apalachicola
Grin with blackened heads
A dog runs with his Frisbee held high
Above the oyster beds;
Ancient oaks bend impossibly
The lichen paint their trunks
Attempt to pet the cavalcade of cats
They run off to their bunks;
The softest fog pours o’er the town
The lamps play peek-a-boo
Vines tickle and entangle the palm trees
And the old cemetery waits for you;
Verandas call us to sit a spell longer
Ah, the porch of the Gibson Inn!
The rustle of reeds and the choppy seas
Conducted by wind and fins;
Here a fiddler – and another one
Cut through the salty air
An orchestra of many knowing souls
Sips coffee and smiles with flair;
Ah, the pollen, the tiny biting bugs, and
The bottles of beer I find
Here on a window sill, there on a bench
Memories churl, unwind;
Have you the time to scour the woods here
Of the knee-knobbly old cypress?
Or just a stroll for a fun ice cream cone
I should think that would be my guess!
The boats, they chug or sport about
To speed across the fishes
Lured by all manner of pole and net
Whatever the angler wishes!
Old Florida! Old ways and customs!
A dream that still survives
A lovely village to explore and interview
Some 2,000 eclectic lives;
Mountains of shells and nautical trophies,
Sponges and antique bricks
Add the galleries of paint and film and form
And you are in the mix!
‘Tis grand to have stopped, to stop and stay
For summer, longer, oh, do!
For anyone coming can dare only to say
To their friends, “I invite you, too!”
I wander the ways and stroll ‘cross the docks
The piers, the old wooden staircases
My camera is ready to capture a quiet moment
When I spot it, my heart races.
Old Jolly Rogers snap brisk with their grimaces
A place brimming with many laughs
Southern hospitality reigns supremely, folks
Find the lamp with the funny giraffe!
Postcards, T-shirts, framed masterpieces
All for any to capture
Mementos of time and space and sea
A delicate, glaucous rapture;
Will lightning dance on the gulf tonight?
Will a catfish take the bait?
Will dreams so deep inside my thick head
Come true? I scarce can wait!
Boom-boom go the trucks and cars on the bridge
That elegant feminine curve
Room to be open, room to breathe deeper still
Room to volley and serve;
Have a chat, have a drink, have a luncheon
Have a gander at following waves
Have a pastry, a platter of oysters, too
Whatever your good stomach craves;
The workers and the tourists here
Are friendlier by far
Than oh, so many destinations
‘Neath the Northern Star;
How long will I stay here? How long indeed?
Why settle anywhere other?
Why, I should send a post to invite
My friends and dear French mother;
Apalachicola, dear Apalachicola
You rouse me from my slumbers
Another day against the sandy shoal-works
Grows to mighty numbers;
A week, a year, a lifetime perhaps
Can save my spirited heart
And pump me anew with possibilities
For life is but an art;
The inns, the music lessons, the houseboat parties
Magnolia, Petunia, the Honey Hole
Tamara’s, the Grill, That’s A Moray, the winding Inns
The Rose Man reaches his goal;
Under the Spanish moss is the history
From ice machines to cotton sacks
And the bravery of so many soldiers of wars
Is engraved on the armory plaques;
Let us thrive and blossom like Chapman’s flora,
The clouds that puff and flow
A heavenly port that will not disappear
To Apalachicola – go!