at bay

I do not like pictures of the beach
with gelatin waters rolling
back to the horizon,
or a stout heart lighthouse
presiding over the churn.

Where is the split timber?
The wrecked ones on rocks?
There is no kelp wilting on those shores,
no crabs sprinting sidelong from gulls.
It’s just unfettered open;

a banner of amnesia.
I dream sometimes of islands on a piss plate
where I am king and the sun
shines on all my best ideas,
but I remember the light hissing out
under murderous clouds.

Beneath that black tarp
secret fishes shuttle back and forth
stealing meaning from word and thought;
every feeling that tries to form.
There is nothing beneath.

I will show you the sea;
the salty trenches
and discomfited plates,
sand sliding sunward,
drawn up by kelp.
But you say, "look!"
"We might live there, even,"
misplaced and wandering
as wavecrash explosions
brine us with threats.

There among the dead things that wash up
the surviving laugh in gray damp.
They smile back at the churn
cheerful grit under sweatshirts
and matted hair.

They leave for hot coffee
to push salt from their noses.
They call out bright names.
and pull away from the surf,
plodding back to hotels

away from from the stitch
holding the sky down
content for a weekend
to be captured in postcard lies
sold for a dollar.

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