~This poem was previously published in Explorations (1992).
~Selected by Clara Jane Hallar, Assistant Editor for Poetry
Winter die back comes early to this tourist town.
The east coast sleaze boys left after the last tour boat,
taking their cardboard boxes of cheap furs
and the money of visitors who believed that Loring
is an igloo village.
Forty percent off sales and moonlight madness pass like
Chinook winds over the downtown stubble fields.
Curios still need dusting, don’t you know.
Some folks ride out the season south of the Tropic of Cancer.
Five Star and the Potlatch stay open
to give comfort to Thomas Basin.
Our pale teens prefer Mickey D.
June of June’s Café stays but won’t thaw out any meat.
Last fall they gutted Charlie’s for another curio shop.
Last fall I cared.
I walk on past the Arctic Bar to drink espresso
and watch the sea lions hammer herring near Ryus Float.
Soon the black cod fleet will off load at Silver Lining while
eagles watch perched in the trees along White Cliff Street.
I’ll have a double,
The first Princes boat isn’t due ‘till May.
THE STORY BEHIND THE POEM
When Another Curios Shop was written, I was living in Ketchikan, Alaska. Fishing and timber still provided most of the jobs in town. Salmon and halibut boats would raft up three deep along the downtown waterfront on the Fourth of July. That changed in the 90’s when the mills closed and docking cruise ships forced the fishing fleet to relocate to Prince of Wales Island. Already frustrated by increased tourist traffic, the news that Charlie’s, one of the town’s few decent restaurants, would soon be converted into a curio shop filled me with an anger that could only be discharged by poetry.
ABOUT DAN BRANCH
Dan Branch lives in Juneau, Alaska. He won two first prizes for poetry, one awarded by Charles Bukowski. Kestrel included one of his essays for their Fall 2015 issue. Others were recently published by Cardiff Review, Gravel, Metonym, Tahoma Literary Review, Punctuate, Swamp Ape, Windmill, and Portland Magazine. He is currently a student in the University of Alaska Anchorage MFA program. He maintains a blog at Kwethluk.wordpress.com