childe hassam
In the Afternoon, She Smelled like the Earth
by Marianne Peel

Her shoulders were always burned.
We had smeared ourselves with baby oil infused with iodine
painting our skin a burnt orange deeper than the marigolds
planted in a circle to protect
the lettuce from the woodchucks.

She taught me how to thread
A frenetic worm onto a crooked hook.
Digging around in that coffee can tin
wet with dirt and the roots of the soil
there was always humid mud under her nails.

Sometimes trails streaked her cheeks
after she pushed her hair off her face.
In the afternoon she smelled
like the earth after the sun
went way, way down.

She taught me to cast my line
flinging her whole arm back past her shoulder
all in one calculated, measured motion.
She said the splash on the water should be quiet soft
So we don’t scare the fish away.

And then we waited.
Just the creak of the dock bouncing
in time with the water
moving all afternoon
bobbing us up and down.

Sometimes our toes would touch
splayed off the dock
and I would recite this little piggy went to market
— but just in my head because
we had to be silent soft, waiting for the fish.

She taught me to reel in, quickly,
but with no panic, no surprise,
knowing there would be only sunfish suspended from the hook
little orange sunshines in our hands
on the dock every summer afternoon.

And she taught me to unhinge the mouth
to pull the mouth slowly from its worm feast
to toss it gently back into the water and watch it,
still hungry,
swim away.

IMAGE: “Fishing” by Childe Hassam (1896).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “In the Afternoon, She Smelled Like Earth,” is a memory poem. My teacher in this piece, an older aunt, recently passed away, evoking memories of long ago times we had shared together. We spent many hours, quiet, fishing off the dock in Irish Hills, Michigan. So many lessons every afternoon. She taught me patience, tenderness, stillness, and the art of letting go.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Marianne Peel taught English at middle and high school for 32 years. She is now retired, doing Field Instructor work for Michigan State University. She recently won first prize for poetry in the Spring 2016 Edition of the Gadfly Literary Magazine. She also won the Pete Edmonds Poetry Prize. In addition, Marianne has been published in Encodings: A Feminist Literary Journal; Write to Heal; Writing for Our Lives: Our Bodies—Hurts, Hungers, Healing; Mother Voices; Metropolitan Woman Magazine; and Ophelia’s Mom. Marianne also received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal and Turkey. Marianne was selected by poet Marge Piercy for her Juried Intensive Poetry workshop in June 2016. She is a flute-playing vocalist who is raising four daughters. She shares her life with her partner Scott, whom she met in Istanbul while studying in Turkey.

david hockney
Was This Rapture?
a life in three parts
by Dustin Pickering

I have begun to laugh—
laugh like the winds of the harbor
that bend the light sideways,
and tempt the blossoming cheeks of young girls.

Don’t break me so carefully
because I was harsh.
I have seen a strong invisible reality
without a face.
At six years old, I jumped into a swimming pool
but I was at the wrong end.
My head bobbed, my mouth filled with water,
I began to suffocate:
was this rapture?

My aunt, tending me during that shifty year,
jumped to the middle of the pool
and pulled me out.
I had drowned.
My breath stopped.
She performed CPR for a few minutes
until I coughed up the water
that might have filled my lungs—
I cried, “What took you so long?”
as if I had made it to the other life
and waited to be brought back.

I wasn’t the only one.
Years later, my dad visited my Texas apartment
and we all drove to Freeport beach.
A hurricane had passed through
but now the air was silent and empty.
The sand was snow white.
The sand was snow white,
and I found the most delicate things of the sea.

My life!
There was a full shark jaw in one piece—
and I gently salvaged it from the sand,
gripping it in pride.
I pulled one tooth from it
because I would not carry such a heavy thing.
I pulled one tooth from the beast
and my dad said, “You could make a necklace!”
What? Carry this fearful thing on my neck?
No, this is testimony to my courage
in facing the winds, in walking the warmest of sands.

Some years later a recurring nightmare
still keeps me in rapture.
I swim alone in a pool, giant as a gym,
while the darkness and dread cover the air,
almost sepia and sick.
Somewhere there is a hideous thing,
a shark terrible as a whale
that could devour my tepid body
like candy in a child’s hand.
I struggle on the pool’s edge—
I sense the inevitable.
The shark comes so close I only kick the waters
harder and harder, panting in surreal panic—
but, but I am alone.
Alone.

IMAGE: “Dive In” by David Hockney (1978).

pickering

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dustin Pickering is founder of Transcendent Zero Press, a Houston-based poetry publisher. He is published in Texas Poetry Calendar 2016, Seltzer, The Tower, Cavalcade of Stars, and other journals. He was a Special Guest Poet for Austin International Poetry Festival in 2013, and a feature for Houston’s popular reading series Public Poetry that same year. He has artwork in Yellow Chair Review. He had an interview with Kiriti Sengupta published in India’s The Statesman. He is currently working on an anthology on the theme of Selfhood, to be released with Hawakaal Press.

Parker
Outer Banks Treasures
by Allison L. Parker

I saw a triangle in the water,
a stingray floating peacefully underneath
these waves, a creature without consciousness,
wholly asleep. One day I will take my mother by the hand,
before all the weird eyes of the tourists
and we will strip down to our plump bodies,
swim out to the sea-creatures flapping above the seafloor,
returning only to lay favored in the sand,
a spectacle, for sure: naked and azure.

PHOTO:  The author, age four, at Broadkill Beach, Deleware (1980).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My creative process is slow like a sea snail. I write a poem, and then sit on it for five years, then edit the heck out of it. I need to experience something, write it down, process it subconsciously, and then a few years later I can understand what it was I was trying to do.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Allison L Parker is a poet, playwright, and English tutor living in Wilmington, North Carolina. She graduated with an MFA in poetry in 2002 from UNCW. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry East, Cobalt, Fjords, Ash Canyon Review, Lilies and Cannonballs, The Oklahoma Review, Scissors and Spackle, A Sharp Piece of Awesome, ArtWord Quarterly, and The Lyricist. Her one-act play Girls, Girls, Girls was produced at Bare Bones Theater Company in Charlotte, North Carolina, and her one-act play Heathens was produced by Big Dawg Theater Company at Thalian Hall in Wilmington, North Carolina, respectively. From 1999-2004, she wrote and performed with the all-female performance art troupe Brawdeville. She currently performs with the sound art troupe 910 Noise.

PHOTO: The author reads at the Hubris & Logos Poetry Festival, Wilmington, North Carolina, 2010).

hyatt regency cg, fl
Poolside
by Rita Fidler Dorn

Feeling far too fat that day to wear a swimsuit,
but craving the wafting poolside breeze
and fresh, chlorine scent,
I wore a skimpy sun dress to the hotel pool deck
with bra and panties beneath it.

The tranquil swimming pool’s only audience,
he and I sat several lounge chairs away from each other,
respite from the intense verbal, sexual, and emotional intimacy
of the past 24 hours,

Soon bored with the local newsprint and
a recently purchased poetry book,
I wandered over to the Jacuzzi, which was
snugly positioned on the perimeter of the pool court.
Inhabited by a few lone twigs and antisocial insects,
the unpristine water beckoned me seductively. Briefly,
I thought of my rejected swimsuit back in the room.

Lowering my behind onto the dry second step,
and pushing my skirts back,
I let my toes, ankles, calves, knees, and thighs
be caressed by the tepid wetness of the unambitious water.
Slowly inching deeper into its modest depths,
I felt the water then boldly advance
and cooly, confidently, courageously,
rendezvous with the edge of my silk, flowered underpants

PHOTO: Pool at Hyatt Regency Hotel, Coral Gables, Florida.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem when my husband and I were spending a weekend at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, using a gift certificate we had shortly before received as a present for our fortieth wedding anniversary. Feeling introspective and pensive that afternoon, I was exquisitely conscious of my body, of us, and of the pool — strangely uninhabited by other guests that warm, sunny afternoon. I wrote the poem to preserve those moments and the vision of my short-term but semi-intimate relationship with the Jacuzzi water.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Fidler Dorn (Ricki) is an English professor at Miami Dade College and Florida International University. She holds an MA in English from Florida International University and a BS in English and Journalism from Ohio State University. She has been a news reporter in New Jersey, Georgia, and Florida. She is a member of South Florida Writers Association, Golden Key International, and Phi Theta Kappa, and was recently invited to join International Women’s Leadership Association. A native New Yorker who grew up in Ohio and long-time Miami resident, Ricki is a visible figure on the academic and creative scenes. She created and leads writing workshops on How to Kickstart Your Own Creativity; Forgiveness; and Grief: Write Your Way Through It. A word game addict, she has been writing poetry since childhood and calls poetry her first language. Strands of Rhyme: Poems from the Real World, published in 2014, is her first book.

A loving young couple hugging and kissing on the beach. Lovers man and woman barefoot in the wet sand. Summer in love.

A Midsummer Night’s Musings
by Katherine Nelson-Born

In between cloud games and applications of Coppertone
on the summer house rooftop, your hand slipped between my thighs.
Our tongues tasted the salt seasoning each other’s lips and skin
on an afternoon seared into memory.

My blue china bowl fell, cracked open, spilled bright red
crawfish rolling across the black asphalt roof shingles,
my napkin fluttering down the alley’s breezeway,
settling into sandy loam on the path to the Gulf
where you could wade for what seemed like miles
in the thigh-high waters of our youthful amour.

Twilight, a creamsicle sky melting into the horizon
takes me back — my fingers stroking your brown curls,
my lips a whisper in your ear in tune with the radio’s
tinny “Puppy Love” ode to teenage lust.

Shadowed by the widow’s peak of Grandmother’s summer house,
we swapped baseball cards, kisses, stole illicit bases, delighted
that beneath us our mothers, none the wiser in afternoon heat,
alternated between dabbing brows with starched handkerchiefs
and lifting china cups of painted peonies, pinkies just so,
delicate crooks warding off bad behavior
with waves of disdain mirrored in silver servers of afternoon tea.
Meanwhile, cast iron pots out back welcomed mudbugs, boiling water
turning them crimson as they cooked like us in the late afternoon sun.

Maybe if I had resisted nibbling your sun-browned ear,
we would not have faced later years of broken china
fractured in pitching contests under roofs
grown too close over bodies grown too heavy
with the baggage of the familiar. For an afternoon
on a rooftop in June we aligned our tails and teacups
into a teenaged fiction untouched by truths
we would come to know soon enough, anyway.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Spending most of my life in the Deep South living or vacationing on beaches from Mississippi to Florida, my poetry is deeply influenced by my natural environment as well as the culture of that environment. My poems resonate with my love of the water, whether it’s gently spinning sand beachside or howling across bulkheads in hurricanes. My  process includes having a journal always at hand, ready to catch that ephemeral moment, and the constant struggle to “make it new,” like my musings on Gulfport, Mississippi, 1972, which I share in “A Midsummer Night’s Musings.”

knb

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Katherine Nelson-Born
grew up in New Orleans and currently lives and writes in Pensacola, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alyss, Birmingham Poetry Review, Emerald Coast Review, Excelsior ReView, GSU Review, Longleaf Pine, Maple Leaf Rag and Penumbra. Her poetry earned “Honorable Mention” at the 2015 Alabama Writers Conclave, previously won the University of New Orleans/ Tennessee Williams Ellipsis award for poetry, and placed twice among finalists in the Agnes Scott College Writer’s Festival. Her premiere poetry chapbook, When Mockingbirds Sing, debuts 2016 from Finishing Line Press.

Walowitz (beach)
Beware: Dangerous Riptides
by Alan Walowitz

Beware: Dangerous Riptides, the sign warned,
but there was the lovely Alice in her two-piece,
charging out against churning surf and good sense
and finally away from her gaggle of pals, arriving
way beyond where the rollers formed into pile drivers
to create, I suppose, those riptides. But what did I care?
I would get her alone beyond all the crashing
and tell her something to make her laugh,
always my only hope. And as the pull of ocean carried me out
way beyond where a swimmer like me had any right to be,
and her strong crawl and athletic form brought her easily back to shore,
I could have sworn I heard her laugh as she passed
and say between strokes: Careful out there, kiddo,
no lifeguard today. Alice of my Daunted Dreams,
I would die in the drink and never see her again—
but she’d talked to me, though, for all I knew,
she didn’t know my name.

                                                            Fire Island, 1970

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: At the Beach. Some time in the 1980s. Too calm to be Fire Island.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I started to think about this poem soon after the event happened — my visit to Fire Island as a camp counselor — in 1970. But to write this version of it, I didn’t bother to look at those old drafts. They hadn’t been working anyhow, otherwise they would have turned into a poem already. It was great to start again; this time I didn’t feel as if I had to be too wedded to the “facts.” As if those should ever matter to a poet.   Now there were no more camp kids I was supposed to be watching closely from the shore. Now it was only the lovely Alice and me, just the way I might have dreamed it.

Alan Walowitz facebook photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, and St. John’s University in Queens, New York. Alan’s chapbook, Exactly Like Love, is available from Osedax Press.

rockaway_large
Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)
by Susana H. Case

Beaches in New York City aren’t like
beaches in California.
There are never as many blondes.

My high-school boyfriend stumbled
through English,
but he knew how to dance—
he could do the Hanky Panky—and he knew
how to reset the odometer
in his father’s Ford. Forget classes;
Far Rockaway here we come!

I cram-tutored him for his Regents exam;
all those language lessons
we traded for sand. I’m the daughter of
an English teacher. He got to this country
when he ducked under a fence and ran.

Right before graduation, we walked
for the last time
along the water, looking at shells
washed up by the tides.
“Being here with you feels so right,” he sang.
On the way over the Cross Bay Bridge,
“Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)”
had flowed out of the car radio.
Not good to dance to. But with waves
nuzzling our toes, he remembered
all the lyrics and his grammar was perfect.

PHOTO: Postcard of Rockaway Beach (Queens, New York).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Beach Boys’ album, Pet Sounds, was formative when I was growing up. This poem was inspired by one of the sounds on the album.

case_1

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susana H. Case’s newest book is 4 Rms w Vu (Mayapple Press, 2014). Author of four full-length poetry collections and four chapbooks, including The Scottish Café which was re-released in a Polish-English version, Kawiarnia Szkocka, by Opole University Press, she is a Professor at the New York Institute of Technology.

bill wakeley
A Game of Tag
by Katley Demetria Brown

I stand at
the edge of the
Atlantic Ocean
cold, wet sand
between my toes
while crashing waves
of freezing water
rush to shore
approaching me
as the tide comes in.
Do I really want to play
a game of tag
with the Atlantic?
She’s a formidable opponent
whose weapons are the
icy water and the undertow.
I am no match against
something so powerful
so beautiful and
so vast that it meets land
somewhere in Spain,
but yet I am tempted
to join her in her
watery playground.
I could get hypothermia,
you know, or a rip current
could drag me away,
never to return.
In the meantime, a rogue wave
hits me with a numbing blast
of salt water,
knocks me down, pulls me in
and it’s time to play…
Tag, you’re it!

SOURCE: Previously published in the author’s chapbook The Visionary, 2012.

PHOTO: “Rough Seas,” Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts (2012) by Bill Wakeley. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I get inspired when I least expect it. Ideas can come any time; I can be out on a walk, sitting in a doctor’s office or in a dream. Sometimes they just pop into my head!

brown current photo1ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katley Demetria Brown was born in New York City. Her poetry has been published in a number of Internet and print publications. Her specialty is poetry with a touch of humor. After traveling through the United States and Europe, she has finally settled down in Springfield, Massachusetts with her family. She makes a trip to Cape Cod at least once every summer.

Kerns1

No Shelter Here
by S.L. Kerns

When the moon came out and the night sky showed off its pearly white smile, the wild party on Destin beach started.

The sand still warm on my toes, my body plopped down on the red ice chest—loaded with bottles of beer—I stared out at the drunken group around me wondering what the big deal was about dancing, about alcohol.

Did cavemen cha-cha? Did Jesus jitterbug? Did Buddha Rumba?

With my headphones in and the new Godzilla soundtrack playing, my preadolescent mind captured the moment like a finger on the end of a soda-filled straw; I observed the party people guzzling down booze, dancing, and laughing, all inaudible to me while Rage Against the Machine repeatedly preached there was “no shelter here.”

Body language is a hilarious thing, and if you don’t believe dancing is dumb, turn off the music and observe the moves in silence. The deaf must be bursting with laughter at the world around them.

One lady on the beach, my fun aunt’s best friend, smiled brighter than the moon. She was the first older woman I’d ever had a crush on. Her black hair pulled back in a loose ponytail under her beach cap, she approached me, bronzed arms extended.

“I’m sorry,” I said while jumping off the ice chest, assuming she needed another Corona with lime. Suddenly, she grabbed my hand and spun me out of my headphones. My Walkman dove into the soft sand.

The sounds of the night returned. I heard the waves crashing loudly, doing their best to drown out Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.”

With her arms around me, we danced.

And we laughed.

In that moment, two changes happened to me: I wanted to be old enough to drink and understood that sometimes you just have to let loose.

PHOTO: The author on the beach in Thailand, 2014.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was kid I took my Walkman everywhere. I kept to myself and my music, an observer. It wasn’t until high school that I came out of my shell.

Kernsbio

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: S.L. Kerns may have southern roots grounded in Kentucky, but has branched out to a life in Asia. He spent nearly six years lost in Bangkok before moving to his current home in Japan. He loves soaking in words of wisdom from being an avid reader and a good listener. He also loves bodybuilding, and likes to think of himself as one of the physically strongest prose writers since Mishima or Hemingway. He teaches English and has recently begun writing, using his surplus of wild experiences to fuel his stories. His work has been published or is forthcoming online in Flash Fiction Magazine, 101 Words, Silver Birch Press, Visual Verse, Degenerate Literature, Funny in Five Hundred, Eastlit, and in print in Kill Those Damn Cats: Lovecraftian Anthology, Anonymous Anthology, Out of the Cave, Pure Slush: Summer, and 47-16: A Collection of Poetry and Fiction Inspired by David Bowie Volume I and II. He also blogs for Muay Thai Lab. Find out more at slkerns.wordpress.com.

pebble beach suffolk

Riding Seaward
by Rebecca Loxton

My Frenchman has come to England to Meet the Parents. “I’ll bet what he’d love,” says my mother, “is a trip to the seaside,” forgetting momentarily that his country is ringed by magnificent coast. It is true however that the Frenchman has not experienced the idiosyncrasies of an English beach.

My family and the Frenchman bundle into the car, double-check the Labrador is on board, and motor towards the southeastern edge of our island. Having sweetened the Frenchman with a custard-drenched Sticky Toffee Pudding at a nearby gastropub, we meander towards the water.

“Where is the sand?” says the Frenchman, looking perplexedly at the expanse of saltwater-polished pebbles before him. “This is a pebble beach, Alexandre,” my mother chirps politely. “Just smell that sea air!” My parents stride off across the beach, pebbles crunching beneath their sandals.

The water licks the shore and winks in the sun. As the sun emerges from its duvet of cloud, my sister and I jam straw hats on our heads, then place hands on heads to keep said hats from whipping into the wind (or “sea breeze” as my mother would say). The dog tiptoes around in the shallows, uncertain as to whether he appreciates the seaside and the sensation of soggy paws.

The Frenchman, on the other hand, seems quite content. He has produced his camera and is snapping arty pictures of sea and pebbles. “Ah, I am so lucky,” he says, gripping me by the waist in a half-hug. “Oh, really?” I peer up at him in what I hope is an apt imitation of Parisian coquettishness from beneath the brim of my hat, and await compliments. “Yes,” beams my Frenchman, squinting at the waves. “I am in England during the three days of the year when it is sunny.”

PHOTO: A pebble beach, Suffolk (U.K.), found at thebeachguide.co.uk.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece is about a recent trip to the Suffolk coast. It is an extract from a longer piece of prose fiction.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in London, Rebecca Loxton read for a degree in French Literature at Oxford and now teaches English at the Sorbonne in Paris. She enjoys writing in her spare time but also whiles away many happy hours reading or wandering around art galleries.

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