Poet Paul Scot August is originally from Chicago but has spent half his life now in Wisconsin. He has an MA in Creative Writing from UW-Milwaukee and works as a software developer. He is a former poetry editor of The Cream City Review and has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and once for a Best of The Net award. His poetry has appeared or is upcoming in South Dakota Review, Tygerburning, Connotation-Press, Midwestern Gothic, The Los Angeles Review, Dunes Review, Naugatuck River Review and elsewhere. He currently lives in the Milwaukee area with his two children.

On Libations: “I was born with a sweet tooth, so it was no surprise that from an early age (I’ll just say prior to the legal Illinois drinking age) sugary whiskey was my favorite. Southern Comfort took on the role of my main drink, with me preferring the 80 proof for mixing and the 100 proof for shots. But having used up my lifetime quota of alcohol by the time I was 30, my drink today is a sweet double shot white chocolate mocha with a dollop of whipped cream on top.”

Paul Scot August

Burnham's Island, Prairie Lake

It's a long row from the pier out to Burnham's Island.

The wind is asleep, as are your parents, and the lake

is an ebony slate that longs to be walked on this hour

before sunrise, your favorite time to be out on the water.

A pickup truck crosses the bridge as you row beneath it

into Prairie Lake, this pulling of oars in the oarlocks

your meditation. The metronomic creak of water-cured

oak in metal rings becomes the one-beat-to-the-measure

of music you invent in your mind. A white Styrofoam

cooler sits in the bow filled with supplies for the day,

a cold lunch, stolen beer packed in ice. Your backpack

has books, a notebook, pens, and your father's Argus C3.

Gliding past Madonna Point with its left-leaning cabin

and statue of Mary standing among the pines, you turn

up the lake and see the island's outline. A long and narrow

wedge, it is darker than the dawn which flows around you.

You lean into the oars and feel the burn in your shoulders

and the new day lies just below the surface of your thoughts,

like the sandbar that extends a hundred yards off the beach.

The bluff on the opposite side rises toward the increasing

light, its stand of pines like fingers reaching to the clouds.

Sand-trails below lead to your clearing where you will set

out a blanket and your body, watch as the sky changes,

and the boat fills with enough solitude to get you through.

Photo by Tom Haydu