by Elizabeth Alford

footprints in the sand—
my old friend the ocean
waves hello

SOURCE: First published at Haikuniverse on April 1, 2016.

AlfordElizabeth Alford is a magna cum laude graduate of California State University, East Bay (B.A. English, 2014). She currently lives in Hayward, California, is an amateur photographer, and spends much of her time writing Japanese short forms. Her work has recently appeared at Silver Birch Press, Hedgerow, and Failed Haiku and is forthcoming in The Bamboo Hut. Follow her poetry adventures on Facebook.

ben waggoner
For the Young Boy in a Wheelchair at a Florida Beach
by Shawn Aveningo

I see the longing
as you gaze toward the sea.
Sharks, sunscreen, jellyfish
—the least of your concern.
You leave no footprints
in the powdery, white sand.
Instead, two ruts
like those I imagine
of slugs on steroids.

Among your comrades—
beached whales,
oil slicked birds,
fallen feathers now flightless
—you tediously roll on.
Palms calloused,
feet forever tender,
soon to realize
the closest to the sea
you’ll be
is the ocean’s roar.

Cupping a vacuous nautilus to your ear
you listen for God’s answer.
Your daily plea…

          Momma always says
           I’m a good boy.
           So why me?

PHOTO: “Wheelchair tracks on the beach” by Ben Waggoner. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Twenty years ago, we took our three young children to the beach on a family vacation in Destin, Florida. As my children frolicked in the sun, I noticed a young boy, around 10 years old, who was in a wheelchair. There were no paved ramps or boardwalks nearby to take him closer to the water, so he tried to roll through the powdery sand. This poem was born of that memory.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shawn Aveningo is a globally published poet whose work has appeared in over 100 literary journals and anthologies. She’s a Pushcart nominee, co-founder of The Poetry Box, managing editor for The Poeming Pigeon and journal designer for VoiceCatcher. Shawn is a proud mother of three and shares the creative life with her husband in Portland, Oregon.

The Day the Ice Cream Fell
by Sally Zakariya

It was the long summer I was eight—all
summers were long then, hot and full
of possibilities, but nothing happened
there in that tranquil bay-side guesthouse—
no one to adventure with except my big sister
and she suddenly, mysteriously grown up beyond me
nothing to divert me but nettlesome jellyfish
and the taunts and tantrums of a skinny kid
whose mother would sigh languidly Don’t
do that Hugh and Hugh would keep
on doing that or worse

Stung and out of sorts, I leapt at the chance
to go to the nearby town for ice cream
butter brickle, please, two scoops, sugar cone
I hopped on the hot pavement barefoot
balancing the swiftly softening treat
but one foot landed on the smoldering
butt of a Lucky Strike and I jerked away.

So small a loss but still I grieved a bit
that night, not just for ice cream spilled
or jellyfish or wretched, worrisome Hugh
but for another summer passing and me
too young and too alone

S. Zakariya

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sally Zakariya’s poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals and won prizes from Poetry Virginia and the Virginia Writers Club. She is author of Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic and other verses (2011) and editor of Joys of the Table: An Anthology of Culinary Verse. Zakariya blogs at

Nearly Drowning

Nearly Drowning
by Ashley Steineger

“And then you smiled,” Mother tells me, “with this odd, almost omniscient grin. You knew something we didn’t know. You still do.” 

“Don’t go near the deep end without your floaters!” screamed an adult voice. I plopped down on my watermelon towel to pout, tugging roughly at the folds of my pink tutu bathing suit.

But the pool itself, with its cool blue torso and darker forbidden areas, called to me. With a chlorinated whisper, the pool commanded, “Jump in me. You are meant to run, dance, swim.”

I had never swum long in the deep end without help, but I recall telling my frustrated little body that it was better to try and fail then sit dormant on a watermelon towel and watch the world pass me on. I walked confidently to the pool’s edge and stepped directly into the deep end.

And I sank like a pink tutu-wearing stone.

Thirty years later, I can feel the community pool water on my skin, the tightening of my chest, a weightlessness. Though not a single hint of fear. No panic. It was a divine and peaceful sixty seconds. The pool turned an angelic yellow-white as I prepared for something I didn’t quite understand. A mysterious voice told me not to be afraid. Ancient knowledge flooded my brain, through my innocent soul. I was One with all. I knew.

Just as my body began to go limp, Mother yanked me up into her frantic arms. She hit me on the back, squeezed my cheeks. The other moms gathered around, gasping. I stared back calmly at the community pool, every eye on me, as though I had stopped the whole world by nearly drowning. With an easy smile, I looked lovingly at my mother, and asked for some lemonade.

PHOTO: After nearly drowning (June 1985).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  Upon seeing the prompt for the Beach and Pool series, I remembered a story my mother told me years ago about learning how to swim. She showed me an old photograph (attached) and explained how I had almost drowned on numerous occasions because I thought I already knew how to swim. She believes that nearly drowning changed me. I tend to agree with her.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ashley Steineger lives and writes in Raleigh, North Carolina, and is a former psychologist turned freelance writer. Her personal essays recently appeared in The Mighty, an online journal about mental health. She gravitates towards poetry and personal memoir, and is currently working on her second book. When she is not writing, Ashley enjoys fishing, avoiding small talk, and finding beauty in the mundane.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I am fishing at the Haw River outside the small town of Bynum, North Carolina. It’s my secret spot.

Drifting toward Maui
by Carolyn Martin

The guide was clear –
at 1 p.m. determined tides
pull Hapuna waves off-shore.
But I forgot the time.
Forgot my fins.
Forgot you dozing
in the shade
when dreams to swim
toward reefs I’d never seen
pulled me from my sleep.

Later, you would say
an orange bird worried you
awake and flew your eyes
along the sea-sky line.

You’d say you didn’t feel
the burning sand or see
the turtle art tattooed
around the lifeguard’s arms
or understand his too-calm scan
of the headland’s curve.

You’d say you had to beg,
She’s sixty and alone,
before he’d abdicate
his throne and slash
his board into the surf.

While I — already grown afraid
of missing anything I’ve yet to see —
was oblivious to tides,
adrift with angels, tangs,
and butterflies,
almost out of reach.

SOURCE: Previously published in Carolyn Martin, Finding Compass (Portland, Oregon: Queen of Wands Press, 2011).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I found this orange bird on a Maui beach years later. I like to think it was the same one in my poem.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Snorkeling on Hapuna Beach on the Big Island years ago, I ignored the guidebook and was pulled out to sea. Luckily, a friend, sleeping on shore, was literally awakened by an orange bird and started to look for me. When she saw I was way out beyond the cliffs, she ran to the lifeguard who needed some persuading to paddle out to rescue me. Needless to say, I now pay more attention to what the experts say about local conditions.

Martin bio1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carolyn Martin is blissfully retired in Clackamas, Oregon, where she gardens, writes, and plays. Her poems have appeared in publications throughout the USA and UK and her second collection, The Way a Woman Knows, was released by The Poetry Box in 2015. She travels as an excuse to write poems.

Traeth Llyfn beach
by Mantz Yorke

Traeth Llyfn beach is glorious — a wide stretch of smooth golden sand backed by high cliffs, with occasional ribs of rock like the backs of partially submerged dinosaurs. Safe, except for the risk of being cut off by the tide.

The children have had fun in the shallows, paddling an inflatable boat. Now it’s my turn. I row out between two ribs of rock that project into the blue sea. I notice a wave a bit larger than the usual gentle swell running in on me. Concerned it will break and thrust the inflatable on to the barnacle-sharp rock, I row hard and clear the end of a rib: the wave breaks just behind me. At the same moment sea-fog rolls in, blotting out everything but the rib I’ve just passed and the lines of darker grey as waves roll towards me on what is now a light grey sea. I’m quite clear about what I need to do. I row across the swell to where I know the main stretch of sand is, then turn in towards the shore. On the way in, I’m tipped over by a breaking wave, but it doesn’t matter since I’m in the shallows. I lift the inflatable onto my back and walk across the sand to where I left the family.

Not having been able to see what had happened to me, they were mightily relieved to see me coming towards them, just as the fog dissipated as quickly as it had rolled in.

PHOTO: Traeth Llyfn beach, Wales. Photo from

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Traeth Llyfn beach is in a fairly remote part of Pembrokeshire, Wales. We used to have family holidays nearby. The coincidence of wave and fog happened as described.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mantz Yorke lives in Manchester, England.  His prose and poems have appeared in a number of print magazines, anthologies and e-magazines in the UK, Ireland, the US, and Hong Kong.

by Shay Cook

I leave my sister back
at the beach bungalow
licking her wounds
over a breakup everyone
except she knew was imminent.

Outside the pussywillows
dance their tango with the
seaweed while a few feet
away I pick a yellow hibiscus
and tuck it behind my ear.

Energized by the sight
of seagulls floating
weightless in the wind,
I escape my sister’s
enduring hiatus from life.

IMAGE: “Seagulls over the waves” by Ohara Koson (1915).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My creative process is to show up to write by scheduling time to craft words often during the week. I believe creativity will be waiting for me when I arrive!

Shay Cook Poet1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shay Cook earned an MFA in Creative Writing from National University and a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Phoenix. She is the recipient of the Hillsborough County Lit Wit Poetry Contest, Winner of the Tampa Tribune Letter of the Day, and author of a collected work of poems entitled Black Silk. Her poem “Playing Dress Up” was recently accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of Mother’s Always Write Magazine. Shay’s nonfiction and poetry pieces have been published in The Quill, Writer’s World, Office Professional Magazine, Write Now, Chips Off the Writer’s Block, Black Cat Poetry, Yesterday’s Magazette, Shadow Poetry, e-zines, small presses, and other literary magazines. She is currently working on her second book of poetry, A Pale Shade of Color and several chapbooks. In her spare time she hosts local creative writing workshops. She lives in Tampa, Florida.

The Jailor
by Barbara Bald

The beach speaks in low tones, an off-season lull.
Spreading towel on sands waiting for summer’s sun,
I position my chair facing the water’s edge.
Towel neatly folded, sunscreen calling,
I place my book beside the mat.

Near me a chipmunk scoots through crevices
in granite walls that line the shore.
He darts in and out in playful fashion,
stuffed cheeks sizing up the scene.

Diapers and swimsuit left behind,
a baby girl toddles to the water’s edge.
Wide eyes fixed on a black lab sharing her tub,
she plops bare-bottom on wet sand.

The spunky lab, tail, beating like a metronome,
leaps from spring waters; two sticks flying high
make his day.

I wish I could slide into holes full of mystery,
wish I could abandon suit and beach shoes,
not worry if sands are shifting, holes are dark or
that I might miss the stick.

I want to lift, ears flapping in total bliss, but
when risk is the enemy, prison bars erect themselves.
Over time, walls of a familiar house, a favorite shirt,
even mocha lattes, ordered again and again,
become self-appointed wardens.

The beach sign should read, Habits that start as cobwebs
can end as cables. Security can become the jailor
who guards the keys.

PHOTO: The author at Bamber Lake, New Jersey (2008).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant, and free-lance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies: The Other Side of Sorrow, The 2008 and 2010 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire, For Loving Precious Beast, Piscataqua Poems, Sun and Sand, The Widow’s Handbook, In Gilded Frame and many more. They have appeared in The Northern New England Review, Avocet, Off the Coast, and in multiple issues of The Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s publication: The Poets’ Touchstone. Her work has been recognized in both national and local contests. Her full-length book is called Drive-Through Window and her chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. Barb lives in Alton, New Hampshire, with her cat Catcher and two Siamese Fighting fish.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Reading at the Chichester, New Hampshire, Library.

Paradise Lost
by R. H. Slansky


We’re not the sort of girls
that slather themselves in baby oil
and bake on the sand for their tans.
In our sporty one-piece swimsuits
we wade into the chilly brine,
seeking the place where sun makes church glass
of the green cobra curving above us,
then turning to brace and feel it break
upon our backs, lifting us off our feet and carrying us
toward shore to run, laughing, back for more.

Again and again, and when
I plant in the sand too close to Lisa,
her joyful out-flung arm connects, too solid,
with my face. The sea does not
stop surging for me as the sting
in my nose brings tears,
and precious moments pass
before I realize it isn’t the spray
on the lenses of my glasses
that obscures my vision,
but the absence of them at all.

I look down.
All I can see
Is a vague and roiling blur
of white and tan
streaming around my knees.

Whatever has been holding me buoyant
capsizes. A sour shock in my ribcage
flips me from fizzy to futile and foolish.
One day, I will recognize
this familiar feeling is not sadness,
but the collapsed paper lantern of anger
flaring fast from fire to ash,
then taking to the wind.

Lisa, her attention split by saying
sorry, sorry, so sorry, to me
puts her 20/20 vision to work. The lantern coals
smolder when my father tells me,
don’t just stand there, look! But
how can I, if I can’t see?

I know why Dad’s patience is short.
Insurance covers one pair every two years.
Glasses lost are money thrown away.

Tomorrow is the first day of summer camp
and I will walk blind into paradise.


Two days into my camp stay
and I am going cross-eyed
from the miss-matched prescription
of an old pair of Mom’s glasses.

Glasses off now, I play mermaids with Lisa,
finding her by the sound of her voice
and the colors of her fuzzy shape
in the cold water of the crowded pool
at the edge of the meadow
where the solar heating panels
only see sun at high noon.

I come up for air to the sound
of my name. Outside
the chain-link fence that surrounds
the pool are two anomalous blurs,
one tall, one short.
From the sun glinting off
the copper cloud of her hair,
I know them both at once.

Here are my parents.
They have done the impossible,
the unaffordable— rushed
a new pair of glasses into existence, made
the drive that seemed
so endless by school bus— all
to restore my sight in time
to enjoy the rest of the week
unburdened with the headaches
inflicted by Mom’s old loaner pair.
They know how much this place means
to me, they bear the gift of the restoration
of the time that still remains.

Here they are.
So excited to surprise me
in the only place that is only mine,
not knowing that the sight of them
would set that lantern aflame again
and send me back below the water
to disappear them, or me.

PHOTO: At left, the author at Cannon Beach, Oregon, with a new pair of glasses secured by a cord. Also pictured is the girl that unintentionally sent her squinting to summer camp. Though the two are still close today, distance, time zones, and lack of photo ops make it difficult for them to continue to coordinate their outfits.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: R. H. Slansky, a six-time 3-Day Novel Contest entrant, two-time short-lister, and 2013 winner, has been featured in the Silver Birch Press ME, IN FICTION SAME NAME, and MY MANE MEMORIES, and LEARNING TO RIDE Series, Geist literary magazine,, and the Literary Press Group of Canada’s website All Lit Up. Vancouver-based Anvil Press released her novella, Moss-Haired Girl, the Confessions of a Circus Performer in 2015. Raised in Oregon, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Not the Beach
by Jackie Chou

Take me to an all you can eat buffet
Feed me raw fish and oysters
Sneak little pumpkin muffins
Into a brown paper bag to take home

Let me savor the moist dessert
Not sandwiches
Made with stale bread and dry bologna
And no cheese, not even cheese

Let me drink first-class champagne
Not bottled water
Brought in a plastic igloo
Which we carry from the parking lot
All the way to the shore

Let me lie on soft cushion
My feet stretched out on a glass table
Under a crystal chandelier
Not on an old torn towel
My body sticky from sunscreen
And my eyes teary from the sand

Let me listen to the sweet melodies
Of a wealthy upbringing
Not the monotonous song of the waves
For I eat men like ribs
Sucking them dry
Until nothing is left but bones and desperation

PHOTO: Beach, Taiwan (1995).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by a friend who always insists on taking me to the beach despite my protests.

jackie chou

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jackie Chou has been writing poetry since high school, winning the Lincoln High School junior class poetry contest with the poem “Vanity Gate,” and went on to study Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. After graduating in 1997, she continued to write as a hobby. In 2012, she joined the Emerging Urban Poetry Workshop at the Santa Catalina Branch Library in Pasadena. Her works have been published in the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, the Alta Dena Poetry Review, Spectrum, Dryland Literary Magazine, Angel City Review Literary Magazine, The Muse’s Gallery, The Origami Poem Project, and Culture Cult Magazine. 


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