Archives for category: BEACH & POOL MEMORIES


A big thank you to the 130 writers — from 26 states and 17 countries — who participated in our  BEACH & POOL MEMORIES Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from June  26 – August 8, 2016. Many thanks to the following authors for a tide of summer refreshment and reflection.

Elizabeth Alford (California)
Kimmy Alan (Minnesota)
Scott Edward Anderson (New York)
Shawn Aveningo (Oregon)
Barbara Bald (New Hampshire)
Pru Bankes Prrice (England)
Ruth Bavetta (California)
Roberta Beary (Maryland)
Norman Belanger (Massachusetts)
Caroline Bock (Maryland)
Katley Demetria Brown (Massachusetts)
Jacalyn Carley (Germany)
Susana H. Case (New York)
Sylvia Cavanaugh (Wisconsin)
Jackie Chou (California)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Wanda Morrow Clevenger (Illinois)
Joan Colby (Illinois)
Clive Collins (Japan)
Shay Cook (Florida)
Beth Copeland (North Carolina)
Neil Creighton (Australia)
Isobel Cunningham (Canada)
Mike Dailey (North Carolina)
Howard Debs (Florida)
Diana Decker (New York)
Rita Fidler Dorn (Florida)
Marike du Toit (South Africa)
Kristina England (Massachusetts)
Vern Fein (Illinois)
Rona Fitzgerald (Ireland)
Vincent Francone (Illinois)
Martina Gallegos (California)
Dana Colecchia Getz (Pennsylvania)
Vijaya Gowrisankar (India)
Geosi Gyasi (Ghana)
Tina Hacker (Kansas)
Ruthie Hamgeri (Illinois)
Brenda Davis Harsham (Massachusetts)
Penny Harter (New Jersey)
Jennifer Hernandez (Minnesota)
Jane Hertenstein (Illinois)
Emily Hockaday (New York)
Trish Hopkinson (Utah)
Carol H. Jewell (New York)
Caroline Johnson (Illinois)
Bokyung June (California)
Derek Kannemeyer (Virginia)
Wilma Kenny (Northern Ireland)
S.L. Kerns (Japan)
Sofia Kioroglou (Greece)
Steve Klepetar (Minnesota)
Tricia Knoll (Oregon)
Laurie Kolp (Texas)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
John Lambremont, Sr. (Louisiana)
Gabrielle Langley (Texas)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Cheryl Levine (Massachusetts)
Rebecca Loxton (France)
Marjorie Maddox (Pennsylvania)
Jessalyn Maguire (New York)
Betsy Mars (California)
Carolyn Martin (Oregon)
David Mathews (Illinois)
Mary McCarthy (Pennsylvania)
Catfish McDaris (Wisconsin)
Daniel McGinn (California)
Linda McKenney (New York)
Joan McNerney (New York)
Jennifer Davis Michael (Tennessee)
Michael Minassian (Texas)
Scott-Patrick Mitchell (Australia)
Vicki Morley (England)
Alice Morris (Delaware)
Leah Mueller (Washington)
Katherine Nelson-Born (Florida)
Thomas O’Connell (New York)
Thomas Park (Missouri)
Allison L Parker (North Carolina)
Marianne Peel (Michigan)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Terez Pepins (Georgia)
Karen H. Phillips (Georgia)
Tim Philippart (Michigan)
Dustin Pickering (Texas)
Christine Potter (New York)
Karen Powell (England)
Jessica Purdy (New Hampshire)
Apoorva B Raj (India)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Leslie Richardson (Texas)
Elisavietta Ritchie (Maryland)
Jeannie E. Roberts (Wisconsin)
Kerfe Roig (New York)
Diana Rosen (California)
Hannah Star Rogers (Virginia)
Mel A Rowe (Australia)
Sarah Russell (Pennsylvania)
Barbara Ruth (California)
Bruce Sager (Maryland)
Jennifer Schlomburg Kanke (Florida)
Penelope Scamby Schott (Oregon)
Sunil Sharma (India)
Leslie Sittner (New York
R. H. Slansky (California)
Joan Jobe Smith (California)
Alec Solomita (Massachusetts)
Massimo Soranzio (Italy)
Ashley Steineger (North Carolina)
Marianne Szlyk (Maryland)
Jonathan Taylor (England)
Alarie Tennille (Missouri)
Pat Tompkins (California)
Sally Toner (Virginia)
Catherine Wald (New York)
Alan Walowitz (New York)
Mercedes Webb-Pullman (New Zealand)
Laura Grace Weldon (Ohio)
Tommy Welty (Illinois)
Eva Roa White (Indiana)
Kelley White (New Hampshire)
Lynn White (Wales)
Gareth Writer-Davies (England)
Abigail Elizabeth Ottley Wyatt (England)
Mantz Yorke (England)
Jonathan Yungkans (California)
Sally Zakariya (Virginia)
Teresa Zematis (Florida)
Joanie HF Zosike (New York)


North Avenue beach Chicago
Chicago Beach at the End of Season
by David Mathews

“And if I do, perhaps I am myself again.”
from Frank O’Hara’s “Mayakovsky”

At first, I was happy it wasn’t packed or hot.
I pulled out a beach towel and opened up
my used bookstore find of Frank O’Hara.

I lifted up from my book to look around.
None of us are beach types. We make up
the land of beer bellies and love handles.
We are the ones who always go to a party
that ended when all the right people left.

Soon Chicago’s Michigan sea was blowing
chilling wet sloppy kisses right at me,
like a gross grandmother or ancient aunt
with too much cheap makeup.
Having the street-smarts of stray cats,
no one goes in the water.

I couldn’t write anything down
inspired by “Mayakovsky” like I planned.
It’s hard to focus or relax
when your world seems to be the world
at the end of the world, with a few
everyday survivors scattered like litter,
moving sideways like hermit crabs,
not knowing where to go next.

SOURCE: Previously published in After Hours: A Journal of Writing and Art (Summer 2015 Issue No. 31).

PHOTO: “North Avenue Beach, Chicago” by Helgidinson, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Mathews earned his MA in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University. His work has appeared in Eclectica Magazine, After Hours, CHEAP POP, One Sentence Poems, OMNI Reboot, Word Riot, Silver Birch Press, and Midwestern Gothic. His poetry was nominated for The Best of The Net and received awards from the Illinois Women’s Press and the National Federation of Press Women. He is a life-long Chicagoan that currently teaches where he teaches and writes.

‘Sconset Summer [Nantucket]
by Elisavietta Ritchie

Both so red-headed we had to insist
we weren’t brother and sister,
that seventh summer when we were chased
from the deck of our Nantucket ship,
splinters from shingles deep in our fingers,
catching our freckles on thorns

when we pitched from the roof
into roses which petalled our heads
while, nets ready, we stalked
the black-and-gold spider.

Then we slid down the bluff to the beach,
struck swiped kitchen matches near eel grass:
does green burn?
All that we asked was one emerald flame.

Yellow and red rippled downwind
like tide in a color film negative
toward tumbledown Squatterstown
dumped under the bluff
south of where we lived and swam.

Our crackling orange tidal wave rushed to engulf
hobos and boogie-men,
ghosts of sea captains,
the woman with twenty-five cats who slept in her stove,
the mermaiden’s bones we’d uncovered in June –

We commandoed it back to the top of the bluff,
buried our give-away heads under vines,
heard sirens, peeked out to see
three fire engines wind down steep rutted roads.

Firemen shoveled sand dikes just in time.

We were banned from playing together
eight terrible days of Nothing To Do.
Fog, thick as smoke, kept the bows
of our roofs fast aground,
couldn’t wash that charred sand.

How slowly dunes green again.

PHOTO:Nantucket Harbor in Summer” by Tammy Wetzel. Prints available at

SOURCE:  Earlier draft won a Poetry Society of America annual award; published in Ann Arbor Review; reprinted in Tightening The Circle Over Eel Country, Acropolis Books, ©1974 Elisavietta Ritchie.  Prose version: Flying Time: Stories & Half-Stories, Signal Books, ©1992 & 1996 Elisavietta Ritchie; A Nantucket Anthology, Whitefish Press, 2001.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elisavietta Ritchie’s stories, poems, articles, and photographs are widely published, anthologized, and translated. Recent books: Babushka’s Beads: A Geography of Genes; Guy Wires; Tiger Upstairs on Connecticut Avenue; Feathers, Or, Love on the Wing; Cormorant Beyond the Compost, Arc of the Storm, Elegy for the Other Woman. Flying Time: Stories & Half-Stories; In Haste I Write You This Note: Stories & Half-Stories.

maria karki
Morning and Evening in Khajuraho
by Hannah Star Rogers

My brother is vomiting again,
and there is nothing
to be done about it.
So we abandon our train
and I call the front desk
for more ice and more towels

But that night,
we float in a great blue pool,
and bats rustle in nearby trees
and fly overhead to parts unknown
like they once did
for the Raj’s swimming daughters,
like they will do again
when we are gone.

IMAGE: “Endless Water Mandala” by Maria Karki. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is about a pool in India that my brother and I visited on a trip after college.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hannah Star Rogers grew up in rural Alabama and received her Ph.D. at Cornell University. She teaches at Columbia University and the University of Virginia. Her poems and reviews have appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Tupelo Quarterly, The Carolina Quarterly, and The Southern Women’s Review. She has received the Djerassi Artist Residency in Woodside, California, both the Everglades and Acadia National Park Service writing residencies, and the ArtHub International Artist Residency in Kingman, Arizona.

The Cure for Everything
by Carol H. Jewell

I know the cure for everything: Salt water…in one form or another: Sweat, tears, or the sea. – “The Deluge at Norderney,” Seven Gothic Tales, 1934 (Karen Blixen/Isak Dinesen)



pulling or pushing
to get
something out
bandana on your head
sunhat, dripping
your face
your eyes
the summer garden
the labor bed.


How long do I cry for
how many shirtfronts
are drenched
red eyes RED EYES
hair mussed
snot smeared
a sting, a long ache:
the unending bellow.


I know you dislike
sand between your toes
most fish, shellfish
I put on my w i d e
brimmed hat
take your hand
walk in the low tide
until it’s time to go;
the sunset.

PAINTING: “Moonrise” (Tangier) by Sir John Lavery (1920).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My creative process usually consists of me finding a word or line that I like, thinking about it a lot, then writing. I often, but not always, write in a pseudo-Epistolary style, speaking to a particular “you” in my work.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol H. Jewell is a mother, grandmother, wife, teacher/librarian/poet living in Upstate New York with her spouse and nine cats. She will complete her MFA at The College of Saint Rose in December 2016. She is insatiably curious.

Requiem in the Sand, 2015
by Karen H. Phillips

Seahorse, I salute and mourn you.
Spiny body spirals regal arches,
          your neck princely.
Buried from my eyes, diminishing tail curls
          beneath powdery beach.
Rage of red tide and storm flung you
          far aground,
stately in death, lost to your salty home.

Eel, I fear and admire you.
Haughty, you arch smooth scales,
          flaunt hideous beauty.
Creature’s neck curves to open mouth,
          rigid in anger at death.
Dagger teeth bare,
          hissing a menace frozen by waves.
Crashing surf abandoned you to fatal sand.

PHOTO: The author enjoys her second favorite beach occupation—devouring a good book (Panama City Beach, Florida , fall, 2015).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Last year’s beach visit inspired this poem. On the same day, while beach walking, my husband and I discovered in separate locations two victims of the recent red tide and turbulent surf: a large seahorse and an even larger eel. There was a tragic air to both figures. I couldn’t get them out of my head. Later, when a prompt given during a poetry workshop evoked a contrast of these two creatures, I wrote my first version of this poem. Feedback from the instructor and my local critique group helped me identify how I wanted to revise and finalize the piece. I hope the reader can identify with the emotions I experienced as I gazed on each of these unique animals, lost to the wildness of their native environment.

Version 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born for beach walking, Karen H. Phillips makes an annual pilgrimage to Panama City Beach, Florida, where she collects photos of wildlife, shells, sunsets, the Gulf, and, of course, her husband. Karen’s nonfiction piece, “The Pie Plate,” is published in an anthology, The Keepsake Project. Her poem, “The Truth about Love,” was recently accepted in an upcoming anthology, Amour.

Poolside in the 1970s
by Cheryl Levine

When I was in junior high, my stepfather, along with his friend whose nickname was “Cookie” for some reason, dug a hole in our backyard with a borrowed backhoe and installed a large in-ground pool. By the end of that first summer, we could walk a few steps from the screened-in breezeway to the pool’s patio and jump right in.

My mother never learned how to swim and was actually a bit afraid of the water but loved to bask in a lounge chair in the hot summer sun, sipping iced tea after iced tea. My stepfather, the pool builder, was a freckled redhead with very fair skin; he avoided the sun. I never saw him actually swim in the pool he built for his acquired family. It was a generous gesture and so characteristic of him. And that backyard addition made for heavenly summers in the 1970s.

Cookie’s daughter, Sue, was one of my best friends. We worked together at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant on the Mass Pike during those summers and would joyfully strip off our turquoise-checked uniforms and leap into the refreshing water after work. Often joined by a gaggle of girls, we would take turns rushing down the blue plastic slide and practicing dives off the board at the far end. We stretched out on brightly colored beach towels and slathered on Coppertone tanning lotion. We would snack on Fritos and Cokes and then jump back in to wash off the crumbs.

When I was a sophomore, I started dating the high school quarterback. The team would have summer practice sessions during stifling August afternoons. “Have the team come over for a swim after practice,” I told John. They did. Often all of them. A horde of well toned and muscled high school boys would hoot and holler as they cannonballed into the cool blue surface.

Heaven for this teenaged girl.

PHOTO: A recent photo of the author at the beach, since she no longer owns a backyard pool.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cheryl Levine lives and writes just outside of Boston.

Santa Cruz
by Thomas Park

We spent a quick evening in the City Lights Bookstore
Rested up, boarders
In a house just off the Haight

Then it was south towards Santa Cruz
Short stop at the lighthouse

The beach was peaceful
A gentle side excursion
Between rides on the boardwalk
After we gave coins to the fortuneteller

Your cousin served us wine
Made conversation
Her fair-haired husband returning later
(Time had little meaning)
From the waterfront,
Surfboard in tow

We spoke of moving to California
Leaving our emotional anchor
(Saint Louis)

But the millions of dollars
The earthquakes
The drought

The damp, chill sands of Santa Cruz
Remain in memory
Cool waves persist in time
Still caressing some tourist’s sandaled foot

PHOTO: “A Scene from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk,” photo and treatment by Thomas Park, 2016.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I  wrote this poem, riffing on a recent trip with my wife to her favorite place in the world, California. It was my first time since infancy, and the trip made quite an impression. I attempted to capture some of the vibe of the region in this short poem.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas Park is a musician, painter, video artist, writer, and poet living in South Saint Louis with his wife and two cats. He is a big fan of poet Philip Levine. He would like to take his wife and cats to San Francisco someday to live, if (or perhaps when) he wins the lottery. Find him at

Author photo by Thomas Park. 


The Concession Stand Is Now Open
by Jane Hertenstein

I grew up solidly middle class. My family had a membership to the Four Seasons Pool Club in Washington Township in Ohio. From Memorial Day until Labor Day we could walk right in and show our card. There were summers of lessons, of pool birthday parties, of hanging out with friends. The pool also had non-swimming activities like a night where they showed old movies. I still remember how big the June bugs looked amplified as they passed between the lens of the projector and the screen, and how the dust motes caught in that bright shaft of light danced and twinkled like little stars.

But the snack bar is what I remember best. The different names of the novelty ice creams conjured up whole stories inside my head. There were the Rocket Pops in red, white, and blue and the orange push-ups, glorified sherbet with a creamy goodness, also called Dreamsicles. There was the Drumstick and I think something called a Fred Flintstone bar. The ice cream sandwich was 25¢ and the cookie part stuck to my fingers like chocolate fur. A little pricier was the Klondike bar or if on a stick I liked the kind studded with crunchy chopped peanuts. Freezie Pops were perhaps a nickel and the fudge bar was pretty cheap too—maybe a dime more.

Of course there were also French fries, Hamburgers, and hotdogs. I’m sure my mother just tossed my sister and I change from the bottom of her handbag before we went out the door to ride our bikes over to the swim club. I’d stay all day, and each time the lifeguard blew the whistle for break time, I’d line up at the concession stand, reading the menu, and dreaming of what the coins burning in my hand might buy.

PHOTO: The author as a teen at the Four Seasons Pool Club in Washington Township, Ohio.

jane h

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jane Hertenstein is the author of numerous short stories and flash. Her work has been included in Hunger Mountain, Word Riot, Flashquake, and Rosebud as well as earning an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train. Her literary interests are eclectic, evident in the titles she has published: Beyond Paradise (YA), Orphan Girl (nonfiction), Home Is Where We Live (children’s picture book), and a recent ebook Freeze Frame: How to Write Flash Memoir. Jane lives in Chicago, where she blogs at Memoirous.

The Discovery of Pain
by Penelope Scambly Schott

I watch like a movie: nothing is true:
Not my new two-piece bathing suit
not my pre-teen breast nubs

not my mother in her big straw hat
just a room with chicken wire windows
a bare room with a green filing cabinet

a coast guard officer in uniform
He opens his filing cabinet and takes out
a Libbey juice glass and an oval bottle

He pulls the stopper and fills up the glass
Drink, says the man in his uniform
Drink, says my father in plaid swim trunks

I lift my tight, red, swollen right arm
aflame from the jellyfish sting
and tip all the brandy down my throat

Outside, children still run on the beach
I hear only the biggest waves growl
A storm petrel smashes into the window

That’s when I heard the bird screaming

IMAGE: “Underwater hazards” (

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this poem my process was simply to let myself remember and then write down the still-vivid details.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Penelope Scambly Schott’s most recent collection is How I Became an Historian. She lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon, but the jellyfish sting happened in Puerto Rico when she was about 11.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Above the Columbia River in Mosier, Oregon (May 21, 2016).