Archives for category: BEACH & POOL MEMORIES

by Vicki Morley

The school had rules, costumes must be
black, woolen and crossed at the back.
In the school pool, the legs grew and the top
sagged, I had to tie the straps,
roll up the legs before I dare get out.

At home I put it in the dustbin
my mother found it and washed it.
Next time I cut a hole in it
and that was that.

I borrowed my sister’s swimsuit,
turquoise with low back and bra
built in. Swimming along in my white
bathing hat, the headmistress
spotted me. ordered me out
and off to her room
for punishment.

I got out, changed and knew
she would not recognize me.
I went to the next lesson
knowing I was invisible
in my school uniform.

And now…I wear a bikini.

PHOTO: “Teen girl at pool,” vintage photo available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I lived on the Isle of Portland (U.K.) and near to the beach, the end where the giant pebbles are, the other end near Weymouth has the smaller ones. I write by handwriting in a journal before altering many times on the computer, and belong .to a poetry group that is called the Penzance Stanza.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vicki Morley used to work at GCHQ, Cheltenham, U.K., in Russian intelligence, then ran two comprehensive schools as head, now writes poetry. She has read her work at Falmouth, Marazion, and Penzance’s Literary Festivals. Her ambition is to keep the local independent bookshop open by buying from their poetry selection.

Twenty Minutes at Horseneck Beach, Massachusetts
by Brenda Davis Harsham

My daughter chants
Beach, beach, beach!
in her wobbling soprano.
Bluebell skies,
wavy-air heat, a
parking lot half-eaten
by sand dunes.
Stiff winds smell
We add our coconut
sunscreen scent.
My husband and I unload
one picnic blanket,
two beach chairs,
three pails,
four shovels,
one cooler,
one giant towel tote,
two beach umbrellas,
one beach cart,
one song-girl
and two grumbling boys,
looking slightly green
from wrong turns and
illegal U-turns when our
GPS failed us.
We push, shove, pull and carry
our gear past cars
pumping Brazilian rhythms
and weaving a
welter of languages,
Spanish, Hindi, Portugese,
French, American English,
Australian English, German,
Korean and your-guess.
15 minutes of donkey labor
over feet-sinking soft sand,
we reach the solid threshold
of packed damp sand.
Waves tease and retreat.
My daughter sinks her shovel
and beams as if she’s
circled the sun and
buzzed the moon.
Her brothers build
towers and dig moats.
Black clouds mass,
roil and spill toward us.
Lightning spits. Thunder rolls.
The beach closes.
We haul, lug, trip over,
drag and torture
our gear back to the
parking lot.
Twenty minutes
at Horseneck Beach that
they don’t remember.
But I do.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Photo of my daughter taken July 2012 at Horseneck Beach, Massachusetts.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is the shortest trip to the beach I ever took, but maybe because of that, it always unfolds in my mind like a poem. When I wrote it, I had to first use prose and then reduce it to poetry by boiling off the staid, boring and commonplace phrases.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Brenda Davis Harsham lives in New England. She’s been a McDonald’s cashier, graphic artist, editor, lawyer, and writing teacher. At the day’s beginning and end, she’s a poet. When she isn’t writing, she snaps photographs, makes art, invents recipes, and reads to her kids. Her poetry and prose have been published in on-line literary journals.

water baby1
before I walked, I swam
by Barbara Ruth

the drowning woman’s story
opens in high summer
with Independence Day explosions and the manmade pools of Kansas
the water an astonishment of cold.
near 70 years ago.
did my mother really
throw me, ease me, coax me
into the open water?
what I remember is the backstroke.
Before I walked, I swam
and I looked up, through the wavy wet
sky as it came down to where I kicked
my heels stretched out and down
my arms rose up together
above my head.
did my mother teach me that
or did I always know?
now, I disdain the pool’s chlorine and tell myself
my buoyant breasts may save me yet
as I immerse in ocean
do my best to make
the shape of my one heart
do my best to save
my many-chambered heart
knowing, as I’ve always known
how apt I am to be taken out
by one sneaker way
or another.

IMAGE: Illustration from a version of The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley.

sleeping in sepia

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Ruth writes at the convergence of magic and grit, Potowatomee and Jewish, fat and yogi, disabled and neurodivergent. She has performed her original work with Mother Tongue and Wry Crips Disabled Women’s Readers’ Theaters in the San Francisco Bay Area, taught in California Poets In the Schools in San Diego, co-conspired with DYKETACTICS! In Philadelphia, and blogged at NeuroQueer. She writes biomythography in poetry and prose, and has been working on a novel since before writing was invented. She is 70 and lives in San Jose, California, and is also a published photographer.

AUTHOR PHOTO: “Sleeping in Sepia,” self-portrait by Barbara Ruth.

lake q3
Mother at the Town Beach
by Marianne Szlyk

You don’t want to swim here.
The weeds won’t drag you down
to where you gulp greeny-
brown water instead of air.
They won’t bind you to the bottom.
You’re not drunk
like the boys who drown.

Those weeds may not
even graze you
with your short legs
as you flutter-kick above.
But there are weeds.

The water is cleaner,
much cleaner than it used to be.
It won’t leave faint scum
on your skirted swimsuit
or your flabby thighs.
Its dark, sour smell
won’t last, not
on your short hair.
A quick shampoo
will wash it off.
But you don’t want to swim here.

The water is cool,
not cold like the ocean.
It sparkles warmly
like a snake in the sun,
like the women
in bikinis basking,
not swimming.
The water is too cool.

Now the sand is damp,
even smooth.
No one pitches broken beer bottles
into this lake anymore
the night before the beach
opens for the season
and the kids’ lessons start.

Still you don’t want
to swim

SOURCE: Previously published in Yellow Chair Review.

PHOTO:  Lake Quinsigamond, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Mother at the Town Beach” responds to Abdul Ali’s prompt to write about a place where we were told not to go. I immediately thought about the beaches on Lake Quinsigamond in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. When I was growing up, we never ever ever ever went to those beaches. My brother and I learned to swim in a neighbor’s pool, and when we went to the beach, it was to an ocean beach, thank you very much. I would like to say that I never swam in a lake until I swam in Lake Michigan as a young adult, but unfortunately that’s just not true. The mother’s voice is somewhat like my mother’s except that she would have scorned “the women/ in bikinis basking” rather than short hair. She was always after me to cut my hair.

parent with Marianne

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianne Szlyk is the editor of The Song Is…, an associate poetry editor at Potomac Review, and a professor of English at Montgomery College.  Her second chapbook, I Dream of Empathy, was published by Flutter Press. Her poems have appeared in a variety of online and print venues, including Silver Birch Press, Long Exposure, Front Porch Review, The Syzygn Poetry Journal, Cactifur, Of/with, bird’s thumb, Yellow Chair Review, Snapping Twig, Eunoia Review, and Taj Mahal Review. Her first chapbook is available through Kind of a Hurricane Press. She hopes that you will consider sending work to her magazine. For more information, visit The Song Is blogzine.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I’m including a picture with my mother since her voice is important to this poem.  Paul R. Szlyk, my father, took the picture in 2010 when my parents moved to Rockville, Maryland.  My mother looks full of mischief in the picture.  Ironically, she took better pictures after her Alzheimer’s began.


Skinny Dipping
by Linda McKenney

We are a water family. My parents took us on frequent picnics to lakes in the Adirondacks. We’d go early in the morning, and my father would cook bacon and eggs on a camp stove. That delicious aroma mingled with the scent of the pine needles that made a soft cushion under our bare feet.

The forest gave way to a sandy beach, where I have fond memories of swimming with my siblings. We’d all take turns jumping off of my father’s shoulders into the clear, cold water. I still prefer swimming in a lake over a pool.

My mother always packed a huge lunch, and after eating we were forced to wait the obligatory one hour before reentering the lake, lest we sink to the bottom. I did this with my children as well until I discovered it wasn’t necessary.

When my parents retired and moved to Florida, they’d rent a camp for the summer when they returned to New York. We had great family gatherings with all of us and our children. Once the kids were settled in for the night, my mother, sisters and I would skinny dip in the dark, sensuous water.

On a recent family vacation in the Adirondacks. My sisters and I regaled all of my grandchildren with stories of our past skinny dipping experiences.

“Once,” my sister told them, “my clothes were gone when I came out of the water. “

The grandkids were aghast. “What did you do?”

“Someone came to my rescue with a robe.”

For the rest of the week, the kids took note of where we all were if they were going down to the lake at night. They were all in terror of the possibility of seeing any one of us naked.

I can’t say that I blame them.

IMAGE: Vintage postcard, “Sunset on Utowana Lake” (Adirondack Mountains, New York).

Mckenney Waiting to swim

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda McKenney is a Personal Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Writer, specializing in Mindful Living and Eating. Her creative nonfiction is published in Silver Birch Press, 101 Word Short Stories, The Survivor’s Review, and Helen: A Literary Magazine.  She also has an alter ego at

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me waiting to swim after lunch, before I knew you didn’t have to wait an hour

The Lost Fun
by Apoorva B Raj

When I was a child, listening to the stories of fish and fishing in the sea
Sailing ships in the midst of waves
The howling of the wind
I always thought it would be a great destination to visit once in a life
To feel the cool breeze
And candy scenes of sunset
To scream my name as loud as I could
So the day I stepped on the beach I was filled with awe
I wanted to run around and dance with joy
But my mind said i am no longer a kid
I held my breath and consoled my childish wish looking at
My better half beside me and his family
I just walked and smelled the fresh air of Arabian Sea
I held the hands of my love and posed for the camera
I treasured the memory of my first visit to the beach
But still today I feel if I had been there as  a child
Then I might have built a fine house for the frog in the sand
And I might have collected all the colorful seashells on the shore
I would have made a trinket necklace and enjoyed more …
I don’t want my child to miss out on all this fun
So I am planning to take him to the pools and beaches
To drench him with good experiences and cool memories to treasure in his old       days
I thank him for getting me back to the lost fun
As now I build a frog house
And pick some shells to show him how much more wonderful it is to play in sand and water than on the cell and computer!!!

PHOTO: The author and her husband Indu Kumar on Malpe  Beach, Mangalore, India (2010).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Apoorva B Raj is a research scholar in the Department of English, Kuvempu University, Shimoga, Karnataka, India. Her poems have been featured in several Silver Birch Press series.

by Jonathan Taylor

Even the weather was in on the act,
shrouding Whitby Abbey in fog,
whipping up the sea into half-hearted
choppiness. The hotel was packed
with taxidermy, imbecilic mammals
grinning from every corner,
out-of-tune pianos which could
play themselves. Dracula Museum
broadcast doom to the harbour
and all the fish and chip shops.

We were there with our twins
(which should’ve been uncanny
but wasn’t). In the two-penny
arcade a guy with a bleeding fist
threatened to punch me, seemed
for a moment the one genuine thing
in the place. But even he couldn’t
be bothered in the end.

PHOTO: Whitby Abbey (North Yorkshire, U.K.) from Dracula’s Whitby by Ian Thompson (Amberley Publishing, 2012).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem is very much based on truth: we recently took our twins to Whitby — the coastal town on the Northeast coast of Britain, where part of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is set — for a couple of days. It really was “shrouded in fog,” and the sea really was stormy; but even the twins didn’t seem fazed by any of the gothicisms surrounding them.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Taylor is an author, lecturer, critic, and editor. His books include the novel Melissa (Salt, 2015), the memoir Take Me Home (Granta, 2007), and the poetry collection Musicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013). He teaches Creative Writing at the University of Leicester in the UK. He is father of twin girls, Miranda and Rosalind. His website is

brendan macevilly
The Divers
by Wilma Kenny

on amethyst rocks
townies entranced
with bodies made supple,
by manoeuvres performed
in the perspex water.

We gawped,
as the local children
with elegant ease,
avoiding the sharp
peaks of black diamonds
which surrounded the sea layer.

PHOTO: Children leap from the jetty at Derrynane, County Kerry, Ireland. Photograph by Brendan Mac Evilly, from his book At Swim: A Book About the Sea. 

KENNY photo1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wilma Kenny is a published poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland and works as a freelance journalist. Wilma enjoys all aspects of the arts. She has read her poetry on RTE and UCB radio and has been a part of an event at the Edinburgh festival. Wilma is excited by the vibrancy of the arts scene in Northern Ireland.

Polar Plunge
by Kimmy Alan


Severe bitter shocking memories
Tattooed with large frozen goosebumps

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken during a fundraiser in White Bear Lake for the special Olympics.  I took part in a similar Polar Plunge in White Bear Lake a little over 10 years ago.  I still haven’t recovered from the trauma. (Photo compliments of the University of Minnesota.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poem, “Polar Plunge,” is about vivid beach memory of when I participated in this Minnesota rite of passage. In order to convey the shock of his experience I chose to write my work with a Tyburn style poem. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it. Polar Plunges are very popular fundraisers  in Minnesota, proving  just how crazy we are.


Kimmy Alan
is a wannabe poet from the land of Lake Woebegone. Named after Rudyard Kipling’s novel Kim, he’s been exposed to poetry and literature since birth. Diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, Kimmy Alan pursed his love of poetry as a distraction while undergoing chemo and radiation. For him, poetry has proven to be a powerful catharsis, as he is currently in remission. When he isn’t writing, he spends time with his four wonderful nieces, whom he says “are driving him to pieces.”

I’m a frequent visitor of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  What you see in the background is the corn water tower that is visible from nearly every place in town. Every now and then at night, when the corn cob’s lights are on, an excited visitor will call the front desk of their hotel/motel inquiring if it’s some sort of rocket ship about to blast off. For the record, my beret has no particular significance other than to cover my balding head.

by Bruce Sager

Here is the little guy
standing at the top of a dune
so that if you look up at him
all you see is a cut-out against the sky
and all the blue of his eyes
lost in the curtains of that sky.

Here is the band of his swimsuit
grinding against his waist,
here a wet red belt of planets
girdling his middle.

Here is his bucket.
Here are sand crabs scratching.
Here is the thin half-moon
of the handle, the metal settled
into the creases where his palm
flowers into his fingers joyfully,
artfully, mathematically,

flexibly, dependably,
and here is joy, for here
is the little guy standing atop
the light dune of memory
looking down at the woman
rejoicing in the sight of him
now, no longer alarmed
but yet repining, the woman
who has just made his name
bong like a bell through the dunes.

IMAGE: “Sand dunes at sunset, Atlantic City, New Jersey,” painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1885).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was just a little guy, three or four, I wandered off into a series of dunes cropping up from what was then an almost deserted Atlantic City beach – this was decades before the jingling of slot machines that so transformed that sleepy burg. My mother looked up on that faraway afternoon to see just an empty bucket and the washed out remains of a sand castle, and took off screaming my name across the sands and into the empty dunes, where – according to her narrative, since this is her recollection, not mine – she found me sitting quietly, safely, in complete solitude. She had, in fact, made my name “famous” as it rolled from the sides of the dunes into the little solitary valley I’d found for myself. My name had become the proverbial tree falling in the forest. It was famous only to an audience of sand. I have always thought that this was a pretty good metaphor for poetry itself – or at least for the act of its composition.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Sager, a recent winner of the William Matthews Poetry Prize, lives in Westminster, Maryland. His work has won publication through competitions judged by Billy Collins, Dick Allen, and William Stafford. Currently available through Amazon: Famous, winner of the 2010 Harriss Poetry Prize. Forthcoming from Hyperborea Publishing, Ontario: TAU (poetry) and Hoby Blue Banks in Exactly 1,000 Words, More or Less (short stories). Forthcoming from BrickHouse Books, Baltimore: What Language Would Please Its Ear? and Swale (both poetry).