all this can be used for something else

Walk the beach long enough and you will find a shell with a peep hole and when you bring it to your hazel or blue or grey or spotted-owl-brown, you will see beyond ocean and fog. You will add this shell to the others, collected on a Monday when trauma trips you almost off this earth and a human arrives with an overripe banana and a bottle of water and a car, wheezing from lack of gasoline. There is no driftwood on this beach, but your eyes find bits of animal and ghosts of storm from months before. Your feet are nude and ankles too as questions arrive like how can love carve so many scars on our bodies and how can we breathe when loss is like a subway collapsing on lungs and all this is part of life but what parts of life are meant to make you want to remain. A big enough shell can be used as a soap dish or to hold quarters for laundry or as a ladle for thick soup or rice. That curved branch left all alone over there can be used to hold things like toilet paper or discarded love notes. The water is too cold but so is life, so you jump in with clothes on because the shyness on your skin is too scratched up to be seen. All this can be used for something else. You are offered a souvenir of black-and-white magnet of this day and it sticks to your refrigerator of the time you almost drowned. You think of the ocean as your body: salt, loss, death, wave, deepness, peed in, grainy and dangerous. You want to crawl toward its bottom to find a way out. On the way out, you notice the seagulls and fall in love with their aggression; you are jealous of their flight. Home is many avenues and city blocks away but you’ve got all these shells to crush into your skin like armor. Sometimes life is about one day and how to get into it and how to move through it.

shell shocked

Inside the ocean,within its constant movements, there is magic. Toes dig into crushed shells, algae and seaweed and perhaps the occasional fish, rocks and human waste: band-aids, cigarette carcasses, wrappers, plastic

I have aged out of Sunday newspaper comic strips and Saturday morning cartoons. I don’t even own a television anymore.

I have moved beyond dolls and playgrounds, though without a child I’m not even permitted to play on swingsets alone (due to pedophiles).

I have removed all my piercings, remain addicted only to coffee now, and no longer feel enticed to engage in evenings of debauchery (minus special occasions).


though decades gather, I still get lost on beaches, searching for shells, rocks and (if I’m really lucky) sea glass.

In purple bikini top and borrowed swim trunks, I kept adding to my hearty handful of varying-sized shells. Many were cracked, some disintegrated into my clumsy fingers, while others were remnants of something much larger once. I may have found three to four complete ones, though the smaller bits are just as illuminating and miraculous.

What is it about these shells that captivate me far more than jewelry, shoes, or baubles of any sort. They are homes. Homes to animals and housed by the ocean.

Am I a home? Home to my bones and housed by this earth?

Essentially, we humans are shells: variously hued, shaped in rippled skin that shakes and alters. We never stay still in these shapes. We’ve sharp angles and some of us are bigger than others, while some of us are/feel crushed…a former version of what we once were.

We can be found, if looked for.
Regardless, we exist.

And on this beach where shells, sand and ocean can be found, there are families. I take note of the French Canadians walking past, the lesbian couple visiting from upstate New York with matching haircuts, cargo pants, and t-shirts advertising what town we are in.

A man from Ottawa says, “I think I may take my shirt off and show off my frame.”

I paint a thick coating of sunscreen all over my skin, while I watch ladies pass me by wearing over-cooked flesh, freckled and burnt. I worry about their health; I worry about their worry.

For four days, I leave Brooklyn behind and wonder what waits for me. As I age, I ask myself what matters, what is needed, and what/who I want to grow old with. My staples in life have dwindled down to: coffee, books, notebook, extra fine black ink pilot pens, and places to walk which excite poems out of me. I’ve entertained thoughts of joining a commune (still researching these options) or filling up my favorite blue/green backpack with enough essentials and hiking my way toward a new land.

What/who is worth remaining for?

The shells I plucked from the ocean and sand wait for me to admire them once again in old jelly jar. I’m not quite ready to untwist that jar and let their scent out.

Perhaps I need to untwist myself first, allow for some real time, so the magic stuffed deep, deep inside can travel its way out of me.