We sit around the small tables
glad to be out of the sun
whose midday glare seems
to blind the drivers slowly
approaching the Jetty Park lot.
A family chatters, the children
laughing at nothing, at everything,
and nearby a dog lays out
dreaming of a good walk
and dinner, hoping for scraps.
We can hear the water
of the inlet, the waves breaking
onto the beach, visuals left
to our imaginations, but we
are satisfied with that, and
the fact that our tacos here
are far more reasonable with the
“without the view” discount.
six foot four with a full head
of longish brown hair neatly cut
five foot ten as the Air Force
claimed although I never
conformed to their assumption
sitting on the deck of a yacht
trying to decide if it was
sufficiently large enough
to meet my desires
sitting on a beach in Hawaii
my oceanside villa
mere steps away,
the housekeeper beckoning
with a freshly made drink
lying in Arlington Cemetery
my life marked by a simple
white stone marker, name,
religion, and branch of service
But I am here, writing this,
and have no real complaints.
It washed up on the beach this morning,
stopped right at my feet, as I
stared down at it, examining it carefully.
It message was clear at first, a tale
too hard to swallow, of creatures
tossed about by a storm that no one
saw, from an age in which no one
now alive could have experienced.
The message described a magic land
of which it gave only had a brief glimpse,
a land that was constantly in flux
and perpetually out of reach.
I closed my eyes and tried to imagine
such a marvelous place, and as I did
it receded back into the ocean
from which it emerged, merged
with all of the others, and I
was left with only this dream of it.
The shadow of the balloon
along the water’s edge
and onto the beach,
touches the dune
as the disk of the sun
drowns in the sea.
First appeared in Beachfire Gathering, 1999
I thought about sending you a postcard,
one with the Riviera in the background
or from Vieux Nice, with its teeming life,
after all, we did have 30 years together.
We never came here, I haven’t been back
to the places we went together since they,
like so much of what we shared, I left to you.
I figured you needed that more than I did,
that you said you felt nothing for me anymore
I still felt much, good, bad, but never
indifferent, so you got it all, though to you,
I suspect, even the good turned sour with time.
I couldn’t think of what to write on the postcard
so to save us both time, and you
the effort, I simply put a stamp on it
and threw it in the trash container along the beach.
Next week we will walk along the beach
and periodically stare out on the ocean.
The waves will wash in and out, and one
will look much like the last and the next.
If we get out early enough, perhaps we will
sit outside a café across the road from the beach
and drink our wet cappuccinos and eat our bagels
while watching some 20-something
perform yoga poses on the sand, poses that we
can remember, uncertain how our bodies
ever assumed those postures, certain
to do so again would cause breakage
that would put medicine to an unfair test.
We watch the elderly drivers, question
why they still have licenses to drive, and
to the extent possible, avoid looking in mirrors.
The morning paper said
that a surprising number of Portuguese
man o’ war washed up on the beach yesterday,
bringing out the Dangerous Marine Life flags.
The paper also featured stories
on two fatal hit and runs, a person killed
in an apparent drug deal gone bad
and the opening of a redone highway exit ramp.
Further in, we learned of a new seafood restaurant
overlooking the beach, and the ground breaking
for a forty-six story building that, when done,
hopefully in two years, will house
an upscale hotel and 113 condos
in the heart of the downtown shopping area.
There were may other stories, but I
couldn’t read most of them this day, so
taken up was I with the mass suicide
of the countless Physalia physalis.
As you search for the source
of all wisdom, will you stop
along a beach and consider
that it can be found, fully
in a single grain of sand.
Be careful, for the beach
contains countless grains
of sand, so choose carefully.
If you are uncertain which one
contains the source of all wisdom
select one at random
and it will be the correct
bearer of wisdom, but only
if you look deeply within it,
and then cast it back
onto the beach, carried
on the gentle morning breeze.
A reflection on Case 19 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
She wondered what it would be like
to be an island, set off somewhere
in a vast ocean, tropical preferably
where the only sounds were
the ebb and flow of the waves,
the thunder of the occasional storm
and the whisper of leaves tossed
by the omnipresent sea breezes.
she liked isolation, the silence
of repetitive sounds, free of the shackles
the city imposed on all within.
She imagined she might never tire
of the freedom and island enjoyed,
patiently waiting for the visitor
who might not ever wash up
on her beaches, she indifferent
but willing to accept what the gods
might choose to offer or deny her.