to the small poem and the quiet voice within

gary c. busha | on the dock

Photo by Norbert Blei


Editor’s Note: Most writers tend to have certain obsessions when it comes to subject matter, which they either realize and accept or believe they’re continually writing something new, different—which may also be the case, as time lends a different perspective to everything we experience in life.

Busha, to me, in the many years I’ve read him, seems to have an obsession with one of Wisconsin’s small lakes (Winnebago) and, in particular, that once old-time, weathered, wooden dock that creaked and groaned and moved almost poetically under one’s footsteps, as it led, jutted out over the water, and brought, especially a young boy, (land-bound) closer, ever closer to the source of his great growing-up love: being a part of it all—if it just staring into the water blue of it all, or confronting the mystery of it with a fishing pole, or mindlessly running and jumping off the dock, into it on a hot summer’s day in an almost religious rite akin to baptism—but beyond.

Here’s Busha at his best in a tiny book (held together by a single staple, “4 ½” by almost “3 ½”), of 10 tiny pages (including the inside covers), 6 tiny, 3-lined poems per page, which comes to a grand total of 60 tiny poems of Basho-like resonance—the meaning of a dock in a boy’s life…an image that won’t fade in a man’s memory. — Norbert Blei.

Walking on the dock
the pine posts shudder as a
red-winged blackbird calls

Lake Winnebago
with that boy on the dock
so beautiful

Off the dock
east wind laughing through willows
a boy fishing

Sitting on the dock
no thoughts for now—even the fish
in the livebox silent

On the dock scaling fish
the ol’ man knows I lost the pliers
the scales fall like tears

On the dock with pencil and pad
the boy tries to write much
between the lines

[from ON THE DOCK, Wolfsong Publications (2012), 3123 S. Kennedy Dr., Sturtevant, WI 53177 –no price, query author at:




  1. Ralph Murre

    Things of beauty, Gary’s poems, the book, your intro.
    (and if Winnebago is one of Wisconsin’s small lakes, the big ones must be very impressive indeed.)

  2. Jeffrey Winke

    Gary’s haiku always put me there… warm summer day, Zebco reel and rod… casting… casting… hoping, but never quite believing that I’ll catch anything. Wonderful!

  3. Nancy R

    Wishing I’d known the old man and the boy. . .and the dock.

  4. Dick Finch

    Brings back memories of boyhood adventures on the lake … the first northern, the mud turtles, the old woman with straw hat and a cane pole catching crappies …


    Lovely, Gary. Simple beauty. You expressed it for me.

  6. norbert blei

    P.S. Reaching for the greater metaphor…I’m more than aware that the Winnebago is the largest of Wisconsin’s many small lakes…but I was going for the sense of little and dock (the dock photographed happens to be on Europe Lake, sometimes called ‘Little’ Lake) and intimacy and a boy and water and fishing and memories…and I could have just as easily not selected (from the 60 poems) one that actually mentions ‘Lake Winnebago,’ but there was as usual a method to my madness, (even a chronology to the poems I selected) and I needed to place the reader (in the beginning of the intro) where the boy/man finds himself and where he’s headed for greater discovery through age…so I’ll leave questionable people factually conscious of big and small bodies of Wisconsin waters with this: maybe the suggestion and the operable metaphor here is ‘find’.

  7. suzanne rose

    being by the water is always a powerful experience – I have a favorite dock I visit regularly to absorb the essence of lake michigan – it is my special place of connection to nature – thanks for sharing the works of Gary C. Busha who has the power/talent to condense the experience into a perfect handful of words ~ s

  8. charlie rossiter

    love the concept, love the poems
    nice going Gary, thanks for posting Norb

  9. carol gresko

    …….small IS big………

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