Growing up in Baltimore, with grandparently roots in Leitrim’s Carracloona and Sligo’s Farrelmacfarrel, Mike Reis is a poet and environmental historian in Silver Spring, Maryland, who enjoys hiking, beachcombing, the ocean seen from dunes, and dancing to blues rock. He has had poems published in Gargoyle, Lucille, Urthkin, The Archer, Laughing Bear, the Amelia poetry postcard series, Cabin Fever (the anthology of the Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series), and North of Oxford (forthcoming).

The High Iron

The high iron
Silvered on sepia

Like a plumbline through history
Remembers the gone.

Rusted rock tunnels,
Ties under thundersleet.

Creosote incense
Over truss-woven switchyards.

Trains full of forebears,
All stations shuttered.

Consists of memory,
Timetables endless.

Army-Navy Surplus

Let grenades be pinned unpowdered.
Let Ka-Bars not unsheathe.
Let the old helm of the Albemarle
Gleam like seafoam in the window
Where little boys step up to put her over to starboard.

Let Mr. Bissel gently shift his night crawlers, stop, and think,
“Who is the God of unsellable ordnance?”

Grandmother’s Measure

Only so much to give,
Does she measure on a confectioner’s scale
Registered true, one arm balancing
One pan like a stem bursting up to a powdered gold petal,
Like an artery skeining only for a burnished, cross-sectioned small heart?

But she knows how much she wants
The sweet ingredients to weigh –
An elegant sufficiency for collective trail food,
Enough to veer her whole family from pyroclastic pressures,
Stratovolcanic succumbing, for one day, all days,
Plunging body-long into the pure tidal gene pool,
Laved by her close lineal waters.


Beachrunner, baitrunner,
Surf candy bag of surprise swivels, sonar bobbers,
Spoon and jig your spinning combo,
Flashing minnows, fleeing shrimp, chartreuse mullet
Talkin’ gotcha’ poppers.
Then coil your impudent windup,
Hips on the foreshore mantled like basalt,
Impelling the shoulder shot swung,
This angular moment you own,
Two-hander torque bayoneting the breakers,
A bolas hurl lassoing drum under the white horses,
Spooled whirr, strumming
Your air guitar in the ichthyochord spray.

Her Memory Drawer

I am filling her memory drawer
Before the sand dollar
Forgets the scent of tidepool,
Before the whelk’s eggcase
Disremembers the current’s sweep,
Before the starfish
Knows nothing of its galaxy.