Beach Synchronization: Selected Poems by Len Blanchard

Beach Synchronization: Selected Poems by Len Blanchard

by Len Blanchard

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Overview

The sixty poems collected in Beach Synchronization are set either on the ocean, or on the beach, or in transit to or from the beach or, finally, in the mind of the narrator when he is simply thinking about the beach and the ocean. The first person narrator of these poems is the poet. This suggests what is indeed fact, that the poet has spent a great deal of time enjoying the many beautiful beaches along the west central Florida coast.
However, while the beach is often beautiful, anyone who has spent any time near or on the ocean knows marine weather can be harsh, even life-threatening. Indeed, the beach is an arena where dramas of life and death are played out daily. To truly appreciate the shore and the ocean, then, one must respect the marine environment and the lessons it has to teach us. One must, in other words, be in synch with the various moods of the sea and nature.
The poems herein are loosely organized around the premise that the moods of the sea and marine weather have their various rhythms. An overarching theme of the poems is that one who is in tune with the rhythms of marine life will find himself or herself in communion with a transcendent reality. In other words, one who is synchronized to the natural world is likely to feel that the world of the senses is not the only world. In many of the poems in this collection, the narrator is overcome with a premonition or an inkling that the world he knows with his senses provides evidence of a higher reality, a reality in which the significance of his human experience - whatever it has been -- will become fully clear and will be justified.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481777261
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 07/22/2013
Pages: 168
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Beach Synchronization

Selected Poems


By Len Blanchard

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2013 Len Blanchard
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4817-7727-8



CHAPTER 1

    The Truth in an Egg Shell

    The turtle's nest marked with four stakes wrapped
    with several strips of yellow and orange tape—
    much like that used at scenes of violent crime—
    and bearing notice of registration and the fact
    in Sarasota it is a crime to tamper
    with eggs a turtle has deposited, drew me

    walking from the street to the water's edge
    as if by magnetic force as I considered
    the proper place to set my chair. I'm not
    a turtle, but I suspect I found this evidence
    that turtles, though generally invisible,
    thrive off this shore, comforting.

    Unfolding my chair and spreading a towel
    just feet from the protected site, I felt some
    assurance I myself would somehow be
    sheltered from the worst of the effects of my own
    kind. Lounging here—the rhythm of the surf
    licking the beach a few yards before me

    soothing as a lullaby might be to a child, as
    the Ronettes, Shirelles and Supremes had indeed
    been to me, before my adolescent innocence
    was stormed by imported sounds called the Beetles,
    Rolling Stones and Kinks, promising someone
    named Mary Jane was both enlightenment and bliss,

    just another of the lies man is prone to tell man since
    lying sells, records or whatever—I reasoned I'd be less
    prone to being struck by an errant Frisbee, or by
    cigarette smoke, a boom box blaring headache
    and a roiling stomach, and chatter centering
    on chips, Coca-Cola and consumption generally.

    Beached at this designated point, I might
    lose myself in reverie, imagining two
    underwater creatures, a hundred years or more old
    each, joining in relationship making all the sense
    they required to realize an instinctive duty to promote,
    not themselves, but another generation needing

    nothing more than they themselves and no more
    than they need: clean air and an open sea, one
    another and, at a certain time of year, a sandy beach.
    So I thought, and I wasn't wrong, suggesting
    I myself need the beach, if not quite
    as a turtle does, for reasons every bit as natural.


    Fishermen

    I was writing when Paco greeted
    me, a stranger under a blue sky
    on the beach at Key West
    in early October. From Cuba and about
    thirty, he had been fifteen years in Key West
    he told me, prompting me to wonder
    what this interruption was
    all about. It didn't help that he asked
    if I were a writer, had had books
    people read published, for I knew
    he wasn't a publisher and doubted
    he was much of a reader. By the time
    he squatted, asking me if I had
    some time to talk, I was aroused,
    ready to shout in English
    or Spanish the negative required, if necessary
    to display the force of the beast
    I was surprised to feel stirring within me,
    rising when he asked if I cook for myself
    on all fours, ready to pounce—
    when he transformed the panther
    to a house cat, saying he had
    some shrimp he'd like to sell for
    he could use a few dollars.

    Though I spoke truthfully
    when I told him I wouldn't
    know what to do with his shrimp
    if I bought them, the light that went out
    in his eyes at my words,
    his "good-bye" spoken
    as if suddenly miles away
    habitually intrude now, especially
    when I contemplate the prospect
    of a trip to the mall, seeing
    myself one in a crowd insisting
    on just the right label and
    excited most by what is most
    expensive because least likely
    to be of any use, and start my stomach
    sinking, as if my next meal
    swims somewhere
    in the ninety miles of Atlantic
    separating Cuba from Key West
    and I have to catch it
    and prepare it to eat it
    to live to write and, unlike Paco,
    like Jesus at the Sea of Galilee,
    I don't know where to begin.


    Varieties of Alienation

    It's as if they don't see it, yet they come
    to this beach on the placid Gulf early on a mild
    morning in early spring as if they want to be
    here. As they light up their cigarettes and begin
    fervently to discuss the deal they just got on
    the purchase of an automobile, how they're making
    money tracking fluctuating real estate
    interest rates and the best crash diet ever, I wonder

    whether they do, in fact, see the white sand on which
    they've dropped their coolers or the turquoise water
    where, should one look, every little fish that swims,
    crab that scuttles is visible. The murmur of the surf
    caressing the shore can be heard above the patter
    of the chatter by which they hold on (as if talking
    is a life raft or line) to the life away from this beach
    they have escaped only apparently, but with an effort.

    I can see they are trying, seem to wish for a connection
    natural only in nature and thus, for many, perhaps most
    with me on the beach today, impossible to see. If they saw
    through cigarette smoke and heard above idle talk
    what I know, I don't believe they would hesitate to swim
    depths never so deep at this point the ocean's bottom
    can't be seen, yet they do, justifying fear or sloth by
    referencing television tales of shark attacks, believing

    the reality of death is easier if denied, even while
    any chance they could die before the will to choose
    has died in them is so carefully avoided nature is forgotten.
    To me today the surf sounds like a lover resigned
    to separation, but its quiet, melodious resignation becomes
    an unlikely source of inspiration, reminding me I am one
    with this beach if willing to open wide my arms, like a swimmer
    or a lover, willing to struggle not to drown before I will.


    (Diving In) Out of the Rain

    It is only deep within my self I am happy
    with myself. Otherwise, I am just like about
    everyone I meet, needing someone or some
    thing other, not knowing whom, what,

    or for what. In the shallows need overwhelms like
    a tidal wave the landscape the self, and the marketplace
    erected in need drowns out nearly all other voices or
    sounds, shouting affirmations of our worst fears

    and greatest greed. The self in the street or alone
    with the television or a glossy magazine, if audible at all,
    is barely more than a whimper. A feeble cry, however,
    even a moan, is s sign of life signaling depths

    frightening only when they are ignored which,
    therefore, should be plumbed. There is more
    than dark water at the ocean's bottom, and
    even what is terrifying as a risk to life often proves,

    upon acquaintance, primarily a mystery acting as
    a spur to acquiring knowledge. Understanding,
    we can see sharks are much like us and observe,
    around and beyond the stealthy ways of predators

    seeking sustenance and achieving procreation, a beauty
    and fecundity making wonder tangible as a heart
    within a self which, before sight, is sensed merely as
    a ghostly threat, a force promising a world nothing like

    the one discussed in shops and on the radio but which,
    seeing, reveals a reality unlike anything we can
    purchase or pretend we are. In the reaches of the profound,
    sea weeds delicate as spiders' webs bloom as hibiscus

    in the eyes of a tropic sun, and tiny fish scaled
    as brilliantly as rainbows thrive as if barracuda
    can do to them nothing unnatural, lurk in shadows
    only as a promise even death precipitates awe.


    Solace at High Tide

    On the beach, at the ocean's edge,
    at the end of my day of rest,
    I am not looking forward to the week
    of work before me, glad as I am
    I am capable of looking forward

    and reminding myself, given real
    necessity, I have reason to be grateful
    for a job. Though it will not demand
    all of me, unlike love or my art, only
    a miniscule portion of my being,

    is actually dismissive, even derisive
    of what matters most to my well-being
    which it requires me to muzzle and leash
    in order to produce without offense, as if
    what isn't useful in generating dollars

    is of no use, it allows me still a measurable
    freedom, for example this day of rest
    and certain undisturbed nights during which
    I am not left feeling stranded, washed up
    on some deserted shore like a piece of flotsam

    waiting only to be picked up and tossed into
    a landfill reserved for waste since I am not
    required generally to swallow integrity or reason
    in the interest of efficiency. On a few rare
    occasions when a sense of duty has demanded

    I do, I have swallowed in the knowledge
    I will be released with time enough to lick
    my wounds like some sorry cur hiding
    in the dark, in the sea oats on some
    scrub of beach after prowling city streets

    during the day yet different, sadder but
    more fortunate than the common cur, for
    the injuries I lick cannot be relieved by
    the caress of a tongue or even another's
    gentle hand because they're internal,

    lie within that part of me responsible
    somehow, in the end, for all of me, for what
    on the job doesn't work yet is cause for my
    being and, thus, must be addressed respectfully
    if life is finally to merit working at all.

    The surge of the tide rising as the sun
    descends is a balm, though, reminding me
    the hurt I suffer suffering slights demanding
    I be less than I am, give short of my best
    and all, pains just because we we're born

    to be whole in order to be moved by beauty
    like the moon to fullness and the ocean to depth,
    to accept with joy every sunrise all that breathes
    and, as well, as long as I in- and exhale in love,
    like the tides, I, too, am capable

    of carrying far out to sea the debris of the day
    requiring subsuming by the universe.
    On the beach, alone in my reflection at
    sunset, I'm reminded I am responsible
    but for an infinitesimal part of that universe.


    Amalgamation

    Their beauty and obvious happiness might well provoke
    envy, especially in one who's never known the sense
    of power those who generate craned necks and
    straining eyes like mine may feel, who's never laughed
    in unison with another, utterly forgetful of the self and
    all others but one. Still, comprehensible as it may be,
    such envy would be, as envy always is, unjustified.

    Intriguing, nearly incredible as their dance across
    and around the beach is in its unrehearsed yet perfect
    synchronization—the young man feigning a martial artist
    one moment, acting a lover the next, never more than inches
    from the young woman moving with a grace uninhibited
    by fear in whatever direction she wills—and despite
    the lithe and toned matching bodies they display,

    these young lovers must face the same elemental facts
    anyone who lives long enough, in grace or not, must
    and still lose love altogether. The most they can hope for
    (and anyone can hope for them) is that they'll see one day
    what commands my attention today as their bodies sway
    as if a moon and earth to their private solar system, disturbing
    my concentration. It's the sun I try to focus on this afternoon

    for, though a gauze of clouds obscures it, the sun
    is still finally responsible for all that lives
    in our common system of revolving spheres. Even
    in the haze of an early winter day on a Gulf beach,
    I'm reminded of this by the colors of the world
    in which the young lovers perform their dance, unaware
    of any eyes but those into which each peers:

    the palest blue of a sky brushed with flimsy
    shrouds of cloud, the crystal-like, sugar-soft white sand
    of the beach, the faint turquoise of the calm sea laced
    with the foamy froth of a breaking surf, though distinct,
    seem to form almost one sphere as if on the verge of blending
    to form a seamless world the greatest painter in pastels
    might spend a life attempting in futility to represent.

    The sun alone's the source of all success, though
    the dream of lovers and the artist's vision deceive us
    by the power of their beauty, cause us to forget
    the base elements of which all we know of life's composed,
    how the tide deposits on the beach at dusk tales of life speaking loudly
    of the inevitable end to the vaulting just off shore of a pod
    of burnished dolphins while lovers dance oblivious in the sand.


    Beach Effect

    I've got no problems today, nor any
    particularly special cause for dancing
    gleefully. I might as well be

    one of the fleece-like white
    clouds adrift in the azure sky
    forming an airy dome about me

    this afternoon, or the emerald Gulf itself
    stretching out before me, translating
    the glowing sun into a dance of thousands

    of tiny, twinkling lights. It would seem
    as if the sky cannot contain its well-being,
    the sea its joy. However, as any creature

    of reason like me knows, aware inanimate
    objects don't feel, despite my senses'
    testimony to the contrary, this is impossible.

    Thus it is reason makes a mockery
    of sight and hearing, touch and smell, even
    of the taste of the apricot I bit into

    after swimming, it's juice filling my mouth
    with a relish chewing its soft, golden flesh
    actually consummated. But I forget myself!

    This is only a metaphor, a description, though
    the seagull—which suddenly came running
    toward me as I masticated the luscious fruit,

    abandoning its routine stroll at the sea's edge,
    cranking its webbed feet with an urgency
    I found amusing only its obtaining proximity

    to my lounge chair and me abated, to pause,
    to look askance, to eye me surreptitiously, back step
    at my glance, advance two steps closer

    when I averted my eyes, knew exactly why
    the sun was dancing on the Gulf
    this morning to an audience of happy clouds.

(Continues...)


Excerpted from Beach Synchronization by Len Blanchard. Copyright © 2013 Len Blanchard. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Overtura: Beach Synchronization....................     xvii     

FIRST MOVEMENT-ANDANTE....................     1     

The Truth in an Egg Shell....................     3     

Fishermen....................     5     

Varieties of Alienation....................     7     

(Diving In) Out of the Rain....................     9     

Solace at High Tide....................     11     

Amalgamation....................     14     

Beach Effect....................     16     

Winter Reminder....................     18     

SECOND MOVEMENT-MODERATO....................     21     

Weather....................     23     

With the Current, on the Tide....................     25     

The Celestial Altar....................     27     

Classic Delusions....................     29     

Beach Quest....................     31     

The Meaning of Hawai'i....................     33     

Teetering (On the Edge of Meaning)....................     35     

Aesthetic Principles....................     38     

THIRD MOVEMENT-VIVACE....................     41     

Beach Holiday....................     43     

Beach Sight....................     45     

Tidal Rhythms....................     48     

Apollo on the Beach....................     50     

A Cry of Gulls....................     52     

Lovers' Play....................     54     

A Godly Fear....................     56     

Rose Shells....................     58     

The Tern's Example....................     60     

FOURTH MOVEMENT-ADAGIO....................     63     

Ship Shape....................     65     

Gray Distinctions....................     67     

A Signifying Noise....................     69     

Comfort in a Southern Wind....................     71     

Reflections of Two Worlds....................     73     

Red Tide....................     75     

Intimations of Intimacy....................     77     

Caught Napping....................     79     

FIFTH MOVEMENT-PRESTO....................     83     

Erosion Lesson....................     85     

Simpletons....................     87     

Musing on a Day of Rough Surf....................     89     

Honestly....................     91     

Serious Fun....................     93     

Windbreakers....................     95     

Plover in Sand....................     97     

Alien Happiness (At the Beach)....................     99     

Something in the Air....................     101     

SIXTH MOVEMENT-LENTO....................     105     

Pelican Kingdom....................     107     

A Troubled Paradise....................     109     

Seaside Daydream....................     111     

Blinded in Paradise....................     113     

Bright Lights, Sandy Beach....................     115     

Pastel Dreaming....................     117     

Lamentation in Season....................     120     

Reflection in Torpidity....................     122     

SEVENTH MOVEMENT-A PLACERE....................     125     

The Marine Self....................     127     

The Accident....................     129     

Feeding Frenzies....................     131     

Storms Brewing....................     133     

Swimming on Empty....................     135     

On Inalienable Right and Absolute Evil....................     137     

Sifting Illusion....................     139     

(Traveling) In Sacred Circles....................     141     

Coda: Water's Word....................     145     

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