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strolling a Humboldt beach,

a friend and I

spotted a surfer

bowing to the ocean.

"Maybe he's telling it

to have a nice day,"

I said,

and we laughed,

a Canadian and a Scot,


in our hard-edged superiority

to fuzzy Californians.


years and loss

having revealed

the shifting sand

on which we walk,

I bow to all

that humbles me

with gratitude

for every breath.

I bow to the ocean.

I bow to the mountains.

I bow to the blossoming plum tree.

I place my hands

in gassho,

lower my head,

and bow to my dog,

to the student's poem,

to a glass of clean water.

Scottish-born Iain Macdonald, who's lived in Humboldt 20 years and teaches English at Arcata High, will launch his new poetry chapbook, Plotting the Course, with a reading at 7 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 6, at Booklegger, 402 Second Street in Eureka. He'll be joined by long-time local writer and teacher Jerry Martien.

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Iain Macdonald

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