Night Drowning Off Santa Monica
by Brad Rose

I swim out a long way,
my arms heavy as cathedral doors,
eyes stung by wasps of salt,
lungs, exhausted, gasping.

Behind me, the darkened sea breathes
its breakers into shore,
the irretrievable shore,
against which the night’s flickering haze hangs.

I am here, and not,
watching the cold walls
roll over me,
their heaving shadows, anonymous.

Your death, a year ago, has taught me
that the distance is not so great.
No matter its length,
a life reaches to its end.

In degrees, I cascade down,
beneath the crests and troughs,
to the black center, where a forgotten world waits,
where I will forget.

My hands, plummeting anchors,
fish tangling in my legs,
I am the current’s cold requiem.
The ocean is our stone.

MORE: Listen to Brad Rose read “Night Drowning Off Santa Monica” at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Many, many years ago, I lived in Santa Monica. I would often surf there, and points north (Zuma, Malibu, etc.).  When, 35 years later, I wrote “Night Drowning Off Santa Monica,” which is about love, loss, and mortality, my surfing experience in the Pacific informed the images contained in the poem. Although I’ve been a Boston resident for 30 years, I am inexorably, indeed, inescapably, a southern Californian.  Our species’ origin may be in the sea.  For the poem’s speaker, so, too, is his/her destination.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Beach After Sunset” (Santa Monica, California) by Nelson M.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles and lives in Boston. He is a 2013 recipient of Camroc Press Review’s Editor’s Favorite Poetry Award, a Pushcart nominee in fiction,  and the 2014 winner of unFold Magazine’s  “FIVE (5) Contest” for his found poem “Signs of Reincarnation at Le Parker Meridien Hotel, NY, NY.” His book of poems and micro-fiction, Pink X-Ray, will be released by Big Table Publishing, Spring, 2015. Brad’s poetry and fiction have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Review, San Pedro River Review. Off the Coast. Third Wednesday, Boston Literary Magazine, Right Hand Pointing, The Potomac, Santa Fe Literary Review, The Common Line Journal, The Molotov Cocktail, Sleetmagazin,; Monkeybicycle, Camroc Press Review, MadHat Lit, Burning Word, and other publications. Links to his poetry and fiction can be found at  including his chapbook of miniature fiction, “Coyotes Circle the Party Store,”  Audio recordings of a selection of Brad’s published poetry can be heard at