Lenten Surf Season

Work morning and Luke up early helping his dad load plumbing tools,
wrenches and chisels, elbows and nipples, the ladle and the lead pot
full of soft lead that looks like frozen surf.
Luke now taller than his dad.

“Give Dan a call,” Luke said. “He’s drivin’ now.
We’re headin’ inland to work,”
and he ran his rough hand meanly over Jack’s salt matted hair.
“I’m afraid my surfin’ days are near over, kid,” Luke said.

Dan lived with his grandma back in the alley
behind Roman’s, off Devil’s Path.
He was working on an old Chevy beater.
He was a cross between a surfer and a hodad.

“You turnin’ into a hodad,” Jack said,
but it was a question, and Dan laughed.
“All you think about is surfing, kid,” Dan said.
“I have to give Grandma a ride to mass.

Give me a quarter for some gas, go to mass with us,
then we’ll drive down and check out some waves.
You hear Gary got shot? Not coming home, though.
Sent him up to Japan for some R and R.”

“I love the mass,” Danny’s grandma said.
She sat in the middle of the bench seat,
smelling like toilet water and wax.
“I love the quiet, the peace.

I love the back of the church dark,
the hard polished oaken pews,
the altar lit like a halo, the smell
of the candles, the incense,

the smell of Father Dayly’s hands
when he puts the host between my lips
and sets it down softly onto my tongue.”
“I know you do, Grandma.”

“No, you don’t. You boys can’t know
nothin’ about it, how I love the sudden bells.
I love the mass so much,” Danny’s grandma said,
“I’m giving it up for Lent.”

They turned to look at the old woman,
Jack rolled his window down,
and Danny’s grandma saw the salt water in Jack’s eyes.
“But,” she said, spitting it out, and paused.

“Yes, Grandma?” Danny said.
“You go to mass without me during Lent.
You give up surfing for Lent.”
Jack could hear the waves laughing at him.

Rising from the beach and curling over the dunes,
a breeze hisses like a glass blower’s torch.
The spring swell peals across the bay,
the waves a glass cavalry menagerie.



  1. Rising from the beach and curling over the dunes,
    a breeze hisses like a glass blower’s torch.
    The spring swell peals across the bay,
    the waves a glass cavalry menagerie…

    A different kind of mass, closer to source. Moist eyes here.
    Sorry, can’t keep up with your outpouring, some, stretching the frame, make me giggle.


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thanks for reading and comment, Ashen. Sorry for the deluge! But the real rain has let up, and spring is in the air!


      1. :) Here too – opening windows and doors to the garden, a delight. My creative deluge is presently poured into the last chapter of ‘Shapers.’ Then pruning, digging and planting – text and garden.


        1. Joe Linker says:

          Good for you. Post some pics of garden? Enjoyed those last year. Remember the garage (boot) sale? I’ve not seen a first garage sale around here this year yet, so maybe spring is playing coy, a crime, if so. You’ve given me an idea though: I should plant some garlic bulbs in my text. Congratulations on near completion of “Shapers.”


  2. Dan Hennessy says:

    Lent , plumber , surfer ; bitchin .


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Yeah, but edited out some of the slang. Something wasn’t right with that line. One too many assumptions, maybe.


  3. bristlehound says:

    I really like this, as it hovers above the spiritual pursuits of differing generations.It sees the traditional church as the respectable, sanitised hands of Faith, against the ‘Hodads’ riding waves to fulfill their needs. Each can be justified and is up for colourful criticism, but they both appear to be done on a religious premise. To give them up for lent, suggests that each of the pursuits of Faith is a luxury and can be done without. This sets me to wonder of the gains achieved when one pursues such activities. I am reminded of something from some years back, when it was pointed out to me that – a bee in its desire for honey has no idea that as it digs inside a flower, it pollinates the flower and thus completes the needs of the mother plant to reproduce. Does this then perhaps mean that as we go about our ways of satisfying our religious needs, that indeed we are performing an act of which we have little knowledge? Does the surf and the alluring scent of the water, offer a religious experience to Dan while drawing him closer to the desires of death? Is grandma comforted by the feel of the bench seats and the smell of Father Dayly’s hands, drawn closer to her God but satisfying deep personal needs to be with her young self? Lots of questions from this work and great to think about. Thanks Joe. B


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Ah! That business about the bees is good. Michael Pollan recently in The New Yorker argues for a kind of conscious plant life. It’s persuasive, though of course the traditional biologists object.

      I commented on Pollan’s piece here.

      “Energy is Eternal Delight,” Blake said. “Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.” Had William Blake lived on Santa Monica Bay circa 1950’s thru 1970’s, surely he would have been a surfer.


      1. bristlehound says:

        Pollan Ha! Not the fine spores that contain male gametes and that are borne by an anther in a flowering plant! I keep a small book of people who follow a career that resembles their names. People with born names of Blight going on to become Agricultual scientists – as an example. Are we drawn to careers that resemble our names? Michael Pollan arguing for a kind of conscious plant life would convince me.B


        1. Joe Linker says:

          “Are we drawn to careers that resemble our names?” I hope not.


      2. bristlehound says:

        Joe, I wanted to say how much I have enjoyed your posts and your comments, over what has been a short but entertaining and educational period. You have made me laugh and have challenged within me something I really like about myself and that is inquisitiveness.Many thanks.B


        1. Joe Linker says:

          Good to question things, no doubt, sometimes seen as a challenge, but it’s to look for something.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.