Edward Harkness: The Law of the Unforeseen

Our reading at Elliott Bay Books is only one week away! Here’s a poem from Ed’s newest book. I’ve discovered that you can find him all over the web, including Verse Daily and Terrain.


One of the things (or two) that I love about Ed’s poems is their range. He strikes me as a thoroughly Pacific Northwest poet, and yet he weaves in  his international rovings, musings about historical and fictional characters, and observations of natural phenomenon from all over the globe, and he does so in such a way that I feel as though I am there, too.

Here is a short poem that gives me that sense of a wholly unfamiliar place (to me), now made knowable.


Ed Harkness



From this bluff on the coast of Newfoundland,
hulks appear like a ghostly armada.
Near one, a sight-seeing ship vanishes
as it passes behind a steepled mass—
a sudden lesson in size, scale, distance
and the shape of things to come.
Bergs, I learn, wander a mile a week,
bearing cargoes of blue light.
Notre Dames of ice, their buttresses crack,
spires break, topple, un-architected
by the warming Atlantic.
I picture myself on a pier
when one of the bergs arrives,
awash, smaller than a dinghy, en route
to nothingness, a glass gargoyle, last one
of its kind, bobbing next to a piling.


from The Law of the Unforeseen (Pleasure Boat Studio, 2018)