Saturday, September 5, 2009

Chapbooks by Estella Lauter

To order The Essential Rudder or Pressing a Life Together By Hand go to or write to Finishing Line Press, PO Box 1626, Georgetown, KY 40324

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fox Island, Ontario


Lifelines always full
of towels and suits and tees
a floating laundry

Cover photo and poem from The Essential Rudder: North Channel Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2008). Available from the press or from

The Elegant Siamese

Sailing Companion

Early on, this elegant Siamese
explored our decks at steep angles,
daring the waves to carry him off.
Burrowed in cockpit cuddies when seas were rough,
wandered out to sample the fare on other boats,
leaped on breakwaters as if they were his palace wall,
even swam to shore to chase a snake into poison ivy.

Now so old we call him Methuselah
he often gives hard stares
from the safe curve of a full sail
or the navy cushions below
where he waits for stable docks
beyond these slippery surfaces.

From "Snapshots," The Essential Rudder: North Channel Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2008)

North Channel Poem with photo

Still Life

The shadow of a bottle
and four wine glasses
on the cockpit wall
casts a spell.

The noisy process
of cooking the evening meal
stops while the crew comes on deck
to see this artwork grow and wane
as the boat drifts and the sun
moves down its path toward night.

Poem from "Snapshots," The Essential Rudder: North Channel Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2008)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Politics, peace




after Mary Oliver

So this is fear.

The sticker on the back of an old truck

says "Pride In Prejudice."

Ten hate groups

with Christian names in Wisconsin.

History is brutal.

I remember the films of Kennedy's

last ride, the black and white stills

of Caroline and John-John

not knowing why.

So this is fear.

I get up to clear that screen

make myself breathe

as if for childbirth

the way I did when the ER staff

yanked my ankle into line.

In two three four

Out two three four.

Voices on the radio sing

of shepherds' gifts

and a fine blanket of snow

covers bare branches.


AFTER 2004

There was no choice

no rest, only brief sails

moments with small children

hours with poetry or music

to remind me why it was still worthwhile

to fight the red state tide

with so little hope

it fit in a baby's bottle.

But out of the rotted wood came other workers

determined not to lose the whole ship

not to let ourselves be brushed down the scuppers

or loaded into the dinghies of politics.


So we resolved, re-tooled, re-framed until we were exhausted.

And out of that work came candidates

more likely to think first of the other than the self.

The margins would be folded into the center

on what was left of our hope.


NOVEMBER 4, 2008

Night fell.

The darkness was thin,

Street lamps and dock lights

doubled the town's peaceful size

on the water,


as if it had just been poured into the bay

to buoy our enlarging hearts.



After the new shock and awe,

the interviews, appointments,

speculations and pronouncements,

in anticipation of the pledge,

the hand on the book, the speech,

we wonder about the scope

of the rot and the remedies.

A black brother says

we should think

not how this man can save us

but how we can save him.

And it is true

his most repeated words were

I can't do this alone, without you,

meaning not just during the campaign,

but for the duration of government

of, by and for the people.

If we hoped to get off the hook of democracy

we will have to learn

to hope for other things

not more or best

but goods designed to last

hundreds of years.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


A purple opal
I didn't even stop
to ask if such a thing
exists in nature
I just bought it