Poetry at the Tent: Five Things I Learned From Camping at Goose Island State Park, Texas

The Geese

…Their call, both strange
and familiar, calls
to the strange and familiar..

Big Tree, Goose island
Big Tree, Goose island

Goose Island offers camping, fishing and birding along  the St. Charles and Aransas bays, north of Corpus Christi, Texas. A three-hour drive from Austin makes this an easy weekend destination–although to avoid the crowds, mid week is better.

I’ve just returned from a two-night camping trip to Goose Island State Park and here are five things I learned.

1. Goose Island is an oasis on the Gulf coast. You can camp by the bay or under the oak trees. The facilities are excellent—well-maintained campsites and bathrooms with showers. The tent camping, however, is mixed-in with the RV’s unless you go primitive. Questions? Arriving late? Not a problem. All will be taken care of by a friendly group of volunteers and staff at this state park.

2. The mosquitos are a killer. It’s true.  Do not underestimate their power-and capacity to bite. Ouch! Bring plenty of DEET.

3. The birding is super!–even I know that and I am not a birder. Lots of cardinals. Bring cameras worth thousands of dollars to see them. 🙂

Birding at Goose Island
Birding at Goose Island

4. It is HUMID! Think Houston in the summer, then square it. If you are sleeping in a tent, bring a fan…or an oxygen tank for breathing.

5. If the heat and mosquitos get you down, you can head into Fulton Beach or Rockport (about 9 miles away) for an oyster po-boy and a Corona, iced-down cold. You can also find Mexican food but be forewarned that the Mexican food on the coast is Jalisco style, not San Antonio/Austin-style Tex-Mex. I had the shrimp tacos at Los Comales. They were tasty but diferente. 

Rockport, Texas Photo courtesy of John M. Jennings
Rockport, Texas
Photo courtesy of John M. Jennings


I’d like to give this place a higher rating for effort and beauty but the weather and bugs weigh it down.


Poetry at the Post Day 1: “Rain” by Edward Thomas

Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain


Yes, I thought. “Rain” would be the perfect poem for Day 1 of Poetry at the Post as I was celebrating last night’s rain, a welcome gift, upon my return to my home in Far West Texas. Rain in the desert is good but rain in May in the Chihuahuan desert is super!

I continued to read on. There was rain but there was something more. This was a poem about death and dying—and war. Here is a piece that grounds us in the oft forgotten realities of this Memorial Day Weekend.

Born in 1878 in London to Welsh parents, Edward Thomas graduated from Oxford and earned his living as literary reviewer. Although he thought highly of poetry, Thomas did not write his first poem until the age of 36—only after being urged on by his friend and neighbor, the American poet, Robert Frost. His poetry career was brief, a mere three years. In 1915, Thomas enlisted in the infantry and was killed in action in the Battle of Arras in 1917 shortly after arriving in France.

But here pray that none of whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain…


photo by John M. Jennings
photo by John M. Jennings

While in residence, I’ll be reading poem a day at the post in Mano Prieto. If you are in the area, stop by for the reading. Times vary each morning so check in first before you make the drive. You’ll be able to see each day’s post under the tab, “Poetry at the Post.”