The Brine-Breather
poems by John Haag

About John Haag

John Haag, a poet, was the professor at the Penn State who most strongly influenced me. His collection, Stones Don't Float, won the 1996 Ohio State University/The Journal award in poetry. He has given me his gracious permission to include a few poems from his collection, The Brine-breather.


Who split them? What's the surface of the sea
But the sky's bottom, where the two conjoin--
Less barrier than bond? And who's to say
What part of each the other can contain?
Yet pelicans fatten on pelagic wars
While shoals of herring envy shooting stars.

The curse-eyed flounder gazes thru' drifting wrack
At the moon, his muse and mistress, in her hauteur
Which the evening gull adores, reflected back
Like some round memento shining underwater.
And the surf ripped that runic moon apart
To leach our spirit from the tidal silt.

The breezes? Indecisive. And it's clear
The waves won't tell us much the ocean knows,
But seamarks where the currents leave their clues
And the wind's calligraphy say this is sure:
Spirit's the strange, the unacknowledged daughter
Of the morganatic marriage of air and water.

Copyright 1971 by John Haag.