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.

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 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.