The poetry of Michael Ratcliffe

Potomac River Morning

Seagulls caw and bob on the river’s swells.
Crabbers banter as they empty pots,
their gibes and laughs skim across the water.
I sip my coffee, bleary eyed and drowsy still.

A fish ripples the surface near the neighbor’s pier.
Fishermen steer their boats toward Ragged Point Light,
seek the day’s croakers and spot, maybe a rockfish or blue.
Eagle strikes the water, rises, talons empty.

It’s quiet in the house. Late-night gossipers still asleep.
I pour another cup of coffee
and return to the porch, careful not to spill a drop.

Heron calls, rich and deep, from the shore.




Scene from a Lawn Chair Court, Coles Point, Virginia

Three boys run along the beach,
sand-skimming, rock-tossing, shouting
Mine, all mine from pier to pier.
They storm the seawall and appear,
conquerors returned to my lawn chair court,
treasures held out for review:
hands full of salt-scrubbed shards of ancient glass and
never-seen-in-this-world-before rocks.

They haul their treasures to the house,
pockets bulging like loaded galleons.
Quiet so Mom and Grandma don’t see
privateers hiding treasures from the Queen.
I bless their riches as only a dad can,
remembering days of pockets filled with flotsam loot
gathered on long eroded beaches.

Michael Ratcliffe lives and writes between Baltimore and Washington, and sometimes along the Potomac River in Virginia. His poems have appeared previously in Fourth & Sycamore as well as other print and on-line journals, most recently Gargoyle, Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Wooden Teeth, and Texture. He can be found on-line at


  1. Michael Rarcliffe writes eloquently about simple pleasures, which he is lucky to enjoy and wise to appreciate. The final line from “Scene from a Lawn Chair…” reminded me of what Robin Roberts, the once-famous baseball pitcher said about his favorite coach- “What made him so special was that he remembered. He remembered what it was like to be young.”

    Liked by 1 person

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