The Full Length

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To proceed over memory

drawn down the breadth of its myth.

To withdraw sand from the glass

pressed against a cracked view

of an overgrown road

soon turning into a driveway of crushed shells.

The oppressive Paleozoic heat

that reeks of swamp and burns your feet

in dunes of moccasin decay.

Feel the pulse underneath this artery

as you pass the veil

on the way to the sea.

Through a portal of scrub oak

in the cumberland undergrowth,

&lt you’ll spy blue herons in the lagoon.

Set sail in a one man vessel,

attach meaning to cloud craft

drifting across the moon,

precipitate  night words

to breach the empty beach

in the hour when all else dims

but voices by the thousand

of unseen hosts rising from within

a cacophony of hymns.

It is a sound like searching,

following whims,

encompassing all that a highway would bring

to a child kept awake by heat lightning,

transfixed on the far reaches of the gulf,

that which is spread between the mist and the veil,

the imagination and the material.

Raw and unkempt,

the blanket was a thick fabric

with the whole night sky rolled up inside.

From out of the novelty of this lens

comes the nightly emergence of pens

to populate pages of explanation.

One legend speaks of a dragon

that brought the written word to the Americas

and we’ve followed ever since

the marks that singed

the trunks of old growth forests.

We’ve listened to tales

that spoke of brilliant trails

 as its fireball sails

from out of a mysterious wellspring of suggestion,

to illuminate the skies of our introspection

and to unveil the disguise

over this ancient connection

coiled throughout the years,

through w(rites) of passage and fears

that these pale reflections

lifted from its scales

are somewhat inadequate to reveal

the full length of its depth and perfection.

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Red Rock

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I can remember the scent of seaweed,

of sand and slick rock

walking the curve of the wall

as the ocean nears high tide

and lashes white foam at your feet.

Eyes are trained on every wet step

bearing witness to tide pools

that disappear into the oncoming waves

like adolescence into the outlying graves of time.

At this edge, this place covered over

by mollusc and graffiti,

the sea wall to Red Rock

holds one image that I have never forgotten.

It endures seasons,

beginnings and endings,

the birth of nephews and nieces,

to bookend multiple weddings

and the death of a friend.

There were four of us that night,

singing and banging on a makeshift drum.

It always claimed a tiny corner in the long ago

but not so any longer as I round the corner

ever so cautiously…

stepping onto Red Rock;

silent, meditative,

with only a solitary gull

perched on the salt stained hull of frozen waves.

I think of Matt Robinson and try to write something

but it is too cold to grip a pen for long.

So, I just think of him here,

when he was alive,

where he once sat and sang “Whiskey Bar”

into the night and to the far off beacon light

beyond the Point,  where all souls go.

As the waves came in surging

we answered with our own voices emerging

from out of the din of useless instruction.

We were still in high school,

the four of us;

myself, Jeff, DiLiberti and Matt.

Myriad lives and paths ahead,

maybe surreptitiously sipping the red

smuggled wine that helped fill our lungs,

warm us against the cold
and help us forget time

as we sang over the waves

at the curve of our world.

It never warned us of the future,

that perhaps we’d never again have this moment together.

It wasn’t Lynn, Swampscott nor Boston

but somewhere in between

the doors of white coastline mansions

and derelict shacks by the tracks,

the edges of twilight

and distant skyscrapers all stacked

in watchful waiting,

baiting each of us to scatter from our roots

out west in the coming years of pursuit

of dreams and something beyond these well worn walls.

I think of Matt Robinson now,

like I was not able to out there.

His passing, once an idea,

now becomes tangible in this physical space.

He was a kid from the neighborhood,

St. Pius, Lynn English,the same age,

his life once parallel now deceased.

I try not to think of him riddled with the disease

that has already claimed too many

but rather think of him singing that night with me

as Red Rock levitated into memory and lore.

Matt, I remember walking with you once before

on those back roads behind Essex Farms,

near my house and yours.

You mentioned you wanted to travel

and that the next time I go to keep you in mind.

We both did some traveling

but never got to take that trip together.

I forgot about that talk

and we ended up an ocean apart.

San Diego, Honolulu,

where now do you journey to?

I look for you here at Red Rock,

hear your voice in the wind singing

“Show me the way to the next whiskey bar”

and though there were those who were a lot closer

and probably kept in touch,

“I tell you we must die”

I’d like to leave an offering for you here at Red Rock

but all I can conjure up is a snowball in a gloved fist.

To shout out your name and hurl it as far as I can

into the sea and mist.

Out where you’ll melt back into the greater whole

and from the abyss

become a wave

to roll back over Red Rock for all eternity,

over me, Jeff and DiLiberti,

until we each in our own way

join you out there in the waves.