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Sketches from the Boardwalk

Sometimes I wish they
Wouldn’t be
So beautiful
So close to me, here
On the edge of the sea,
With the whole world
Right next to me.

These mysterious people
With their inexplicable umbrellas-
Most days I can work out their purpose,
But others, there seems to be no reason
In the weather.
Maybe they’re guarding
Against the loss of something,
Like that somnambulant wisdom rising,
Trailing behind them like hot-engine vapor.

A scarf on a sunny spring day-
What could be more perfect?
Hands on her hips, she points her elbows
East and west to let the heat
Fall from her sides unobstructed.

Slender women squint at the sun
And I can see in their eyes a family story
Going back thousands of years
And coming around again,
Shining through an hourglass.

Heels clicking on the musty boardwalk;
Carelessly she slumps her shoulders,
Her tiny skirt a requisite gesture
Marking the place
Of the anticipated charms
She’ll conjure in a darker hour.
Just you know, she’ll be exciting
When it counts, but now
The sun is high and the sky is clear
And it is good to be lazy.

Mark the bohemian lovelorn.
Are they sincere
In their paradigmatic dismissal,
In the thoughtless clasp
Of pale hands under black cuffs?
Their eyes are outlined
To mask their belonging.

Lemon shoes and a pumpkin bag,
Inch for inch
More dimensional than she.
She had something to put off,
But she couldn’t wait,
So off she strides
On clunking yellow heels,
Her hair,
Her posture,
Her motivations
All leaning.

A simple couple
In broad-brimmed slouching hats
That announce their compatibility
Dangle a small boy above
The iron rail of the bay,
Loving their child and the peaceful water;
And their peaceful life
And peace of mind
Are no more illusion
Than the iron and the sea.

The tiniest girl flies by so fast
I can’t even tell whom she’s outrun
As she stops and giggles
Over her chubby shoulder.
You can’t lure a pigeon,
Even if you spend all day.

Take note of the message
In her arms, friend.
She’s closing herself to you,
Keeping something back for now.
But take action,
Consult your faith.
She won’t live like that for long.

A young woman so colorful
She could have been a bed of flowers,
Or was,
Or will be,
Or maybe I’m not looking close enough.

Why do people film inanimate objects?
Will those images of buildings
And boats at pier
Have more meaning in rapid sequence?
Will your family doubt you,
Or you your fragile memory,
Without evidence that those
Tiny man-shaped figures
Were progressing in natural motion
And not posed for prosperity,
Not carved from plywood
And tacked up on eaves?

Just then a girl,
Impossibly small to be walking,
Stepped within inches
Of my sun-warmed knees
And just then shone
Her lively wide eyes into mine
And just then
I was a father,
For one half of one second,
Before my babe ran
Clomping bashfully before her mother,
Whose face I failed to observe
Just then.

There, I’ve fallen in love again.
She is still around the bend
And approaching quickly
To break my heart.
I wish her luck;
The pieces are getting so small.

A little boy paused
To poke his slight little fingers
Between the slats of the shining boardwalk,
As if he would slide through
And take to the water.
I couldn’t know what grandpa told him,
But I hope he didn’t say
It could not be done.

I’ve never seen anything so real.
The details of this place
Declare themselves
With uncommon fervor,
Carved from material
More solid than stone,
Grown from a source
More substantial than earth,
So intent are they to be,
To be known,
To be seen,
By me.

That nearby island of mottled green
Could be a giant at rest,
And if I had to sleep forever,
I would choose this place, too,
For the endless quiet, in the eyes
And hearts and footsteps,
And even in the city streets;
On city sidewalks, the voices hum,
The egos relaxed, without aggression.
Every whisper is sent for someone
And every syllable lands home.

The white sun has me pinned to a bench,
Like I’ve never felt such purity.
Time has stopped
And I don’t know what to do with myself.
Stop your bicycle here, old man.
There’s room, I think,
In that basket for me.
I am weary from my reverie,
And can’t tell what is best for me,
But to be wheeling south right now
Would suit me fine.


I really enjoyed this, you've created very vivid portraits of all these people. I love the inexplicable umbrellas.
Scotty said…
Nice read; even nicer page - I'm impressed by the background.

Wish I could do something like that on my blog, lol.
Rob Kistner said…
"Just then a girl,
Impossibly small to be walking,
Stepped within inches
Of my sun-warmed knees
And just then shone
Her lively wide eyes into mine..."

I love that entire stanza's tribute to youth and wonder.

This piece is a really stimulating read -- beginning to end. Lots of "stuff" to wrap the mind's eye around. Great!

--and so it goes--
paris parfait said…
This is a keen observation of what's around you. Really well done. And what a beautifully-designed blog page!
GreenishLady said…
I liked this a whole lot, and really liked the sense that they could be mixed about, appear in a different order - they are sketches, each discrete, and yet they are a whole too. The mood of the piece slows me down nicely. Lovely.
I love narrative poems which shows us much about whats going on. You made it come alive for us. Great post.
Colorful Prose said…
There are some absolute jewels of observation in here. My favorite is this one:
A young woman so colorful
She could have been a bed of flowers,
Or was,
Or will be,
Or maybe I’m not looking close enough.
strauss said…
Delightful observations, vivid and full of life, colour and movement -quite dream-like.
...deb said…
"And every syllable lands home."

I particularly like how the narrator eventually take the people in, not just observing, but participating in their lives, intertwining. Exceptional.
Tom Atkins said…
New here. Simply marvelous.

Marcia said…
I was amazed at how much I was drawn into your poem -- how much I wanted to be on that bench and be part of it -- and that is all due to your word portraits.
Rethabile said…
Nice. It's a long poem, but it doesn't lose steam.

"The details of this place
Declare themselves."

Those of your do, too. Bravo.
Rax said…
I love the vivid imagery and your unique voice.

"Every whisper is sent for someone
And every syllable lands home."

I'm going to be here awhile. This site is a treasure.
crimsonflaw said…
fascinating work, each and every stanza worht a million pictures.. and the sorrow is delicate is fine like mist like verdigris..

beautiful poem. i must confess i can not read off the monitor but nothing could keep me from reading it to the end...

you honour your craft well.

''There, I’ve fallen in love again.
She is still around the bend
And approaching quickly
To break my heart.
I wish her luck;
The pieces are getting so small''

this stanza was murder...but they all make up a resplendent whole
k.m.ryan said…
Great observations in this poem. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing it.
Lisa said…
An interesting poem with alot to take in, very visual. I thought the stanza that began, "Just then a girl.." was amazing. I actually stopped there for a moment to take that in. Thanks for sharing this.
Fox said…
I adore this poem. I spent summers growing up on the mainland with trips to the beach, and one of my favorite places to be is still on a boardwalk, sprawled over a weather-scarred bench, watching people and trying to defend my pizza from seagulls preferably with someone to whisper to.

The quick snapshots of people are wonderful, reminding me that I need to spend some more time watching them - though here in the land of loud birds we have beaches without boardwalks, unless you count Kona. I shall have to settle for trying to watch them without the heady scent of boardwalk fries. My diet breathes a sigh of relief and my soul (and my tongue) one of regret.

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I think, sometimes,
that I can do anything,
but that can change on the way
to the elevator.

I prepare for outside.
Rain makes it easier,
bends my eye to the ground,
to the architecture;
turns everything to gold.
The new gravity holds me,
turns the voices into hums,
the walkers into clouds.

But outside my door,
there are voices already,
breaking through planks of wood
that should mean security,
and I’m in their path;
every word an arrow
tipped with poison.

They’re only voices.
They are not harsh;
they do not threaten.
They’re not aimed at me
at all. Yet I suspect,
hidden from me,
there are faces attached.