Thursday, January 10, 2008

“Migration,” a poem cycle by Scott Ezell

Migration (part 1 of 8)

the horizon line congeals
from a 1000-mile migration,
the sea opens in a wake
of widening water trails,
the ocean loam plowed open
by a bone hook
and a stone blade,
chickens and taro
in the holds of hollowed palms,
outrigger canoes with 3-edged sails:

thatch houses
broadcast south
along archipelagos
pioneered by
wedge-winged birds
beating into
distance and return,
beyond the continents
of human ken—

islands rise
from Pacific blue
like amphibians,
low and long,
with teeth raised into clouds
and tails that moult
from green to blue,
lipped with shimmers of sand
and wreathed in tropic flowers—

I was here
a thousand years ago,
and now return,
having never left.

diesel engines burn,
and heft the metal hull
thru swells
out on the open sea,
between two islands
where asphalt roads
cut edges into jungle,
palm huts stand gray
in a moulting rain
next to cinderblock homes
with metal sinks that
empty into reefs.
papaya trees grow
from trash heaps,
naked children leap
into water luminous blue—

coconuts curve their trunks into the wind,
the coral shore recedes,
the ocean loam spreads open into
curls of engine wash,
cloud-light rolls
flat and silver
across the sea,
the horizon line dissolves.


In September 2007 I traveled to New Caledonia, an island nation between Australia and Fiji, for an art residency with two abroriginal sculptors from Taiwan. The theme of the residency was the great Austronesian migrations south from China across the Pacific and Indian Oceans that reached Madagascar to the west, Easter Island to the east, and New Zealand to the south.

My work from the residency is centered on the theme of migration—not only the ancient sea-trails, but also the ways migration manifests in contemporary life when we move to and away from places, relationships, and stages of life.

Every Friday for the next 8 weeks I will post a section of a poem cycle called “Migration,” along with a painting of the same name. Please tune in to check out this work, and visit my painting website at

Scott Ezell

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

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