Christopher Buckley

Intelligent Design & Miramar Point
March 18, 2021 Buckley Christopher

Intelligent Design


7, 8, 9 years old,
I was a true believer
if there ever was one—
Holy Ghost, walk on water,
rise from the dead . . .
it was all good,
brainwashed as we were
6 out of 7 days a week.
Heaven, hell, the fiery pit
of Purgatory (if we were lucky)
where we’d roast
a long damn time
for cussing, disobeying
our mothers, and 57 varieties
of disrespect—each iniquity
we could not avoid
arriving on the planet with,
regardless of our Holy Cards,
patron saints, or pennies
for the Pagan Babies.
We lined up each day
at arm’s-length reciting
the Apostles’ Creed
and Pledge to the Cross,
repeated the Kyrie and
mea culpas on cue
during Lent—no alternatives
for our seemingly endless
But over time
time turned profane
as the scattered stars,
that, like us, were—
it stood to reason—
already inside eternity . . .
so it seemed that,
like them, we shouldn’t
have anything to fear?
I mean it, so help me God—
if there ever was one. . . .


At Miramar Point


I listened to the sea,
the idioms of foam and spray
a grey bank of fog imprinted
on my forehead standing for
everything I knew . . . my soul’s
small hands knotted, anchored
deep beneath green water, like
kelp struggling toward sunlight.
I drifted off and couldn’t see
anything beyond what I’d read
in the vanished lines of eucalyptus,
the font of shadows etching
the crumbling cliffs.  My work was
to make something out of nothing
more than the sky left behind.
Skin diving, surfing, I explored
the salted margins of the waves,
the green intelligence of the sea—
a second life in spindrift and swells,
in the inscrutable physics of light,
riding bare-backed and fish-fast
until I was tumbled out into
the booming soup to crow-hop
in across the barnacled rocks.
I was there for the immediate
fusion of oxygen and blood
beneath blue corpuscular space
and never saw angels in the clouds,
just sea gulls swaying on the air
among the high harmonics
of the pines, the last inches
of summer unthreaded through
the palms.  The invisible daytime
stars looked me in the eye, and
the impossible universe—like the sea—
kept moving and left me here.

Christopher Buckley’s most recent book is One Sky to the Next, winner of the Longleaf Press Book Prize, 2023. He has recently edited: The Long Embrace: Contemporary Poets on the Long Poems of Philip Levine, Lynx House Press, 2020; and NAMING THE LOST: THE FRESNO POETS—Interviews & Essays, Stephen F. Austin State Univ. Press, 2021.