California Haiku


The morning fit with fog —
Morro's stacks and stone
just barely visible


Tide goes in and out —
never the same,
always the same


Standing on rocks
waiting for the tide
to go down


Sketching the ocean,
my fingers wet
with charcoal


Felled by beer,
I pass out while it's still light
in California

Beach Hymn

It’s right, it’s bright.
It’s brighter than
the light of the Lord out here…

At the shore there is no one
between me and the Lord, save
a thousand sleeping fish and
men hunting for hidden oil.
I walk along the coast, right
at the edge where tide rubs away
the land like an eraser, only
to pencil it back in twelve hours
later.  I leave footprints in the
sand, shallow sculptures wrought
of endless shards of glass, whose
sides have been polished smooth
by the alabaster pull of the moon,
sucked clean of color by the glaring
sun.  These footprints are my only
testament, proof that I’ve sought
communion with something bigger.
They alone would save me—
if not for the caustic waves, tricky as
atheist preachers, which keep on
washing my offering away.

When the wave feints into the shore
its body vanishes.  But the
water remains, unchanged.

—Navarre, FL

Go Home, Ocean

You would think that the ocean
would just give up finally.

The coast is our immovable object,
its sand a sliding ruse selling the waves
on a false hope
that they can take back the land—
stretch their sea legs with a walk in the grass,
rise and fall with the curves of the coastal highway...

At least when the ocean shows up
to our mainland party
uninvited, drunk and stumbling
all over the beach, it’s been so
thoughtful as to bring food
(even if it hasn’t bothered to
wrap the fish in the seaweed).
Like last time, we kindly accept the fish
but have to turn the frenzied tide
away because it smells like
the savage ocean and wears no clothes.
Foaming at the mouth, it drains away,
ripping straight out horizonward with
the hooks of a thousand drowning horses,
taking with it our surf boards and wetsuits,
occasionally someone’s car or sunglasses.

Out past the shelf, the ocean strikes
up a little party of its own
attracting only a few
narcoleptic pelicans, who fall like
feathered stones out of the sky
and crash the barrier-reef buffet
while skittish fish refuse to dance
with smiling sharks...

More of the ocean poem...


A fire hydrant drowns in the sand.
It prays for the waves to reach its feet,
to lubricate its spigot with the shining randomness
of which only ocean is capable—
toy rubber dinosaurs, light bulbs, mismatched shoes,
mismatched socks, chairs missing a leg, saran wrap.
It gave up years ago looking for the perfect shell,
its pipes thick with grit, its undelivered postcard beauty
in no way self-consoling. O, hydrant, wait, wait—
the clouds grow blue with chaos,
the pelicans flee in threes;
your time is coming.