SeachangeBlue neon pales the alley and nothing
calms the woeful sea if won’t come she
to the window.

No, too drouged to hear.
Her golden green hair billows across
the Motel Fregata bed, and deep her
foghorn bellows mute in pillowed sleep.

So solo out off the beam down to the coaly beach,
flip flop in shallow cool pools, lured by a small moon coin.

Up the beach a fire spits, a bottle breaks, and a guitar flashes.
Over the wooden trestle, a harmonica passes.
The surf hisses yeses as from the rocks a wiggly piss-take.
Boon a mist sleeks in, so tack-back to the warm room.

Seaweed wrapped around orange plastic curlers,
with foam jelled fingers that collect flotsam and jetsam
and want some. Curls taped to cheeks and brow.

She was a beachcomber scavenging in kaleidoscope
curly cuffed bell bottoms, passing
across blond sand dunes
where she learned to stretch and yaw,
surfing loose blousy waves off breezy reaches,
coasting through town down to the beach
on a one speed lazy bicycle, surf mat under arm,
red-orange towel slapping behind, salted hair curling,
tangling kite wagtails, waves gushing the beach,
curling around sandcastles where sand crabs
and children bubble and fizzle in the foam drizzle,
no wonder of the surfer’s troubled faith in waves.

Wet and salty wind full in our wrinkled faces,
we swim out, hold hands through curling waves,
dive, burbling breathless under waves,
fall and turn and spin with the waves,
hear the waxy epizeuxis of waves.

By the coyest hairs we argue, liking to talk
while we surf, something about a tiger shark and riptides,
an illuminated jellyfish, a juicy green sea anemone,
and a Brobdingnagian turtle as old as the ocean.

We lock fingers in curls and pull to the curling top,
your oily fisheyes turned to my qualmy cockeyes.

A swell rises to a wave of oyesses,
we kick and touch and tussle for air,
and the wave breaks into foam and washes us in,
prone in repose in the rushing foam.

Gaviota early 70's


  1. philipparees says:

    An aural feat, and feast. For me this evoked all the nostalgia of longed for sea surf, swamped by salt buffeting, gulping glory. This speaks volumes of sea pages.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thanks, Philippa. Holding hands under waves. We used to do it when kids, the waves always bigger (no matter how small) than they looked like from shore. And holding hands under water also maybe a kind of stand-in for poetry, where you just might be able to hold hands with a reader. Of course some waves, outsiders, are tremendously big, and break the hand hold. That nostalgia, have you read Camus’s “The Sea Close By”? He describes how he grew up poor, but near the sea, and it wasn’t until he left the sea that he came to understand poverty.

      1. philipparees says:

        I understand the sea-deprived poverty only too well. The Cape rollers on endless empty beaches, sand dollars to be occasionally found and a visible mountain range capped with snow. The walk at dawn was daily and all of riches! Just thinking about it makes me melt with longing!

        1. Joe Linker says:

          Yes, and that is part of the compelling writing in your book Shadow in Yucatan.

  2. Some wonderous lines, powerfully evocative. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Twice I was hit in the head by a surfboard. The first time it was my fault. I was the last of a threesome to come out of the water, and I walked to the nose of my board as I rode a last wave in, showing off for my friends standing at the water’s edge, watching my last wave, and I dove off the front of my board, thinking the board would pearl backwards, but it did not, and it took several stitches to sew up the break between my eyes. Even a little blood in water goes a long way. Another time, I was paddling out at D&W and a surfer farther out lost his board in an oncoming wave, but I did not see that, and when the wave reached me, I casually rolled with my board under it, to let it wash over me, and when I rolled back up, his board smacked me in the face, again requiring a few stitches. Later, I took to riding boogie boards, which required fins, but were soft and better suited to sloppy afternoon blown out waves, and the blackball was up and all the boards had to come out of the water anyway, but the waves in the break were empty.

      1. philipparees says:

        Talking of surfboards…I once dug a hole at the edge of the sea for my 10 month old daughter. The surf would fill it, she would be happy, and I could get on with a book. When I looked up she was nowhere to be seen but a surfboard lay a few yards away. It had neatly coasted over her, trapping he in the sea filled hole and two minutes later she would have drowned! I pulled her out gasping and spluttering. I would get arrested for that now! Books do a lot of damage!

        1. Joe Linker says:

          Yes, books and surfboards not a good mix. Although I think the little scar between my eyes may have improved my poetry some. We used to “dig to the water,” up from the water line. You dig a hole in the sand and a couple of feet down the water table begins to fill the hole from the bottom. You have to be fairly close to the water line to do this. Low tide best. Then when the tide comes your city of sand melts away. Poetry can do a lot of damage, DiCosimo tells Mario in Il Postino.

      2. Huh, you lived dangerously. I grew up at a lake, with some wild storms, but not the kind of waves that would lift you on a surf board. The nearest to an exhilerating sport in my youth was skying, in the Alps – sailing down a slope through powdery snow and leaving white mist in your wake was bliss.

        1. Joe Linker says:

          Cool. Descriptive, like in some Hemingway, “Cross Country Snow,” a short story. Snow waves. In the water, you have to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Easy to fall into a lull, but it wasn’t the waves that got me, but my nonchalance. One can play it too cool (Chet Baker played it a bit too cool, perhaps). Is there a cool poetry that is like cool jazz?

  3. Love this poem! What a glorious cacophany of sea-salty sensations!

Leave a Comment

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

You are commenting using your 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.