thoughts from the porch (still on the beach) ‘world’s apart’…

thoughts from the porch (still on the beach) ‘world’s apart’…

what a strange turn of events this vacation has been, I come here to escape the masses and now they are here en masse, at least compared to this time of year most years, so where can I escape to? the only refuge left, as the bars and restaurants rev up, as the cars line up, the beach becomes a haven, most folks I suppose look for the sun and sand, I am more for the sound of the shore, the hotel pool bar is in full swing as I walk by, some country song is blaring, I couldn’t tell you which one, not my scene, I get to the boards that lead off to the beach, take off my shoes where the boards disappear into the dunes, no need to get them full of sand, the sand is cold, expected, I walk away from the direction of the town, as the sounds fade into the forward sound of the ocean crashing, I find the line just beyond where civilization has no longer hold on the audio, the beach is still lit from backdrop behind me, but here I am, just deep enough on the beach to blank out the world, only a matter of feet, but that is all that matters, I here some voices here and there in the dark, but no one approaches, or if they do they are mere shadows, what I mistake for a person turns out to be the warning sign for the jetty, all the artificial light behind me, all the smiles, the laughs, the music, all the normal draw, but here I am more enamored with the stars, and even the stardust in between, there seems to be motion, for surely there is, but the earth is also moving, spinning, so which of these is? both I suppose, but only my perception sitting here on the cold sand, I bury my bare feet in, I feel like I am evaporating into the sky, actually perceiving the world draining me into that expanse, something I have felt before, like those first nights of cold as you watch your breath take form, except this is like smoke, mist or steam, streaming off of my soul, but no panic, only calm, to become part of the cosmos, the possibilities, for as ancient as the ocean is, there is only so much to this marble, as amazing as she is, I wish to travel to the stars, in whatever form, past this limited life, there must be more, or I hope there is more, the answers, or even uncontemplated questions out there, up there, I feel the pull…
running my hands through the sand, reminds me of sandcastles, how we would build them on the water’s edge, always thinking we could out smart or out maneuver the ocean, never thinking for a minute we would lose, youthful optimism (some may say naivete, I say no), maybe that is just who I am, or always was, even now, that I know the inevitabilities, I still fight for the sandcastles, dredge trenches to oppose the incoming tide, for what else is there?
the beach looks lunar at night, frozen footprints from those who have been, the same stars, no sounds from animals, the birds have gone to sleep, craters and valleys all around, the same color, the same bland color all around, the only savior, here at least, the sound, the constant purr of the evening ocean sliding beneath the dunes, the tune that surely is the oldest known, to all land
.

triggers: the raw bar

triggers: the raw bar

there are different memories of mine of the jersey shore, the real one, not what you saw on TV, wildwood crest when I was a child (boardwalk with rides and games) and then later on Cape May, I never recoiled, as early as I can recall, at the raw seafood bar (specifically talking about The Lobster House), it took me a while to get used to oysters however, but clams? I suppose we were meant to be, I suppose texturally they are similar to oysters but not for me, I like the chewability of them, yes, I like to chew them, big ole cherrystones on the half shell raw, I notice many people kind of slurp them down quickly, only getting a bit of the ocean flavor doused in cocktail sauce, kind of powering through them like shots of liquor, I want more than that flash, I want to know where they are from to savor the flavor, for a moment more at least, this particular raw bar, was my first, and to which all others have always been compared, maybe the location has something to do with it, my home state, the vacation memories with my folks and now my own-some, all these years, the same, you order them up, they schuck them up, nothing fancy, a big plate of ice, a wedge of lemon, a container of cocktail sauce, no crackers (sorry Maryland), a dollar store child’s size plastic fork, and that all adds up to perfection, with social distancing in order, I had to take my order down the dock, literally the raw bar’s backdrop is the dock where the commercial fishing boats come in to deliver their catch, you sit in their shadows and can almost listen to their histories creaking in the hulls, certainly smell the fresh ocean and a bit of oil, seating is equally simple, tables made out of those rope storage spools painted over too many times to count, surrounded by the ubiquitous plastic white chairs, even in covid times there is comfort there in this setting, while not bustling it was busier than I might have thought, the every other minute decades old sounding announcement system bleating out about orders ready at the takeout window, “ticket 1916, ticket 1916, ready @ the takeout window”, but I concentrate on my plate, a glistening fresh 2 dozen, I could eat 100, or more, probably, I try to remind myself to slow down, take a sip of amstel in-between, but damn they are so good, all those memories triggered in a bite flood my entirety, the burst of sea water, a tinge of cocktail sauce, the meaty texture of the clam bellies, everything I remember, surely would be a disappointment if it were not, but my entire life, this one spot, nothing seems to change even in a pandemic year, and in a way, it calms my soul, letting me know everything will be just fine, at least for now, with a simple plate of clams, well, now… they are … gone.
(side note “the raw bar” would make a great strip club name, just saying)

thoughts from the porch (beach edition)…

thoughts from the porch (beach edition)…

6:50pm
the sand is cold, I could wear shoes, I know, but that is not the essence of the beach for me, the volleyball courts are empty, for some reason I think it bad karma to cross them, the lines defined that is, silly I guess, but we all have our idiosyncrasies, a stiff steady wind pushes in from the ocean, my journal’s bookmark flapping wildly about like some worn flag that has seen one thousand seasons and as many storms, so I walk toward the remains of the sunset, somewhere in the back of my mind this seems a warmer path, maybe it is just the exercise of walking in sand, feet sinking in, there are a few other travelers here, as I suppose there would be, or at least should be, there is the inner conflict of wanting to share such a place and yet commit it all for your own, both thoughts feel at home in my mind but I suppose I do not own this open secret, so here you are, welcome, the rush of the waves provides constant sound, I hear nothing of humanity at the moment, not a drop of the usual din seems to reach my ears, except the wind, not howling, not screaming, nor a gentle hand, somewhere in the limbo that lies between all those, a rising firm calm if you will, gulls glide silently above, a couple walks by with their young child, also silent, I can not accurately describe the golden shimmer of the leftover tide in the sand and fading sunlight, wave upon rolling wave, maybe this is the only timeless thing I may ever encounter or perceive, back there, just some hundred or so feet, the supposed real world, none of that has ever felt like this inside my bones, is this abject loneliness? I have always been an optimist, no, I am not lonely even if I am quite alone, I just feel something missing, perhaps…
I can feel the darkness of the rest of the beach creeping up my back behind me, I do not dare to look and become a pillar of sea salt, no, I look forward to the only hope I have, the only light left, even with a useless breath, might I, fight the inevitable –
with this, a moment, an experience, a performance on the oldest stage, might even Homer blush, for he knew, as do I, our temporal nature, among nature, while born of gods this realization, or born of science, much the same, these waves have seen many eyes before mine, and many more still when I am gone, for at least I was this once, graced with the best seats in the house.

staccato style.

staccato style.

Photo by Moussa Idrissi on Pexels.com

a glass of bourbon
on the hotel balcony
by the beach
a poor substitute
for a family
night prescribed
perhaps I have not tried hard enough
the way the dice fall
always a pair
and this is autumn
how many springs and summers
will I
for surely less than more
night has calling
sunset missed, I blinked
midnight scrapped, strapped, a bedouin
lies in my bed, perhaps.

notes: I am in Cape May NJ this week, one of my escape hatches, but that does not always let me free of my thoughts, as they are, and so here they are…

Cape May NJ Travel Log (part 2)… “in the dead of…”

Cape May NJ Travel Log (part 2)… “in the dead of…”

 

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Preambleyes, I know this post is out of order (this was written mostly on day 2 of my recent vacation) but I finally got all my notes together and transcribed, if you want to read up on Cape May (GO HERE), but in short let me just say, this is a place I have been coming to my entire life, it is an old shore resort town, full of history, hundreds of years old in parts… that said.. here goes….

new towns or cities just do not have the between your fingers feel, the weight, the very taste of history itself spinning slowly in the fog in the air, apparitions in plain sight, hollow sounds floating on the voice of the wind and the ever present, sometimes distant, but ever sounding crash of the waves off in the darkness, even on a night like this, dreary, drizzle hanging over or hitting your face depending on which way you turn, even on a night like this, some might shy miserable, yet, I feel drawn to walk the town, there is both something equally eerie and calming in a nearly deserted resort town, as if the buildings are exhaling from all the commotion of the summer season, homes and buildings that have literally seen and been witness to hundreds of such seasons, taking in the winter to rest their old bones, throw on some new clothes of paint, perhaps replace a beam or two, to encounter again the coming crowds and blazing sun, but that is all rear mirror now, the sun falls short in the day and never quite reaches room temperature or above, just enough light to inform and know you are awake, but in the night, the buildings can sigh, a collective hum across these old streets, this time of year is far creepier than true winter, every scrape of leaf means you are being followed, you look, and see a leaf, but are convinced otherwise, so I understand the phrase now better than I had previously, “the dead of winter”, yes, winter is more desolate, the leaves are all gone, the moon light invades and penetrates around within every inch, guardians, the trees, bare, but not tonight, a slight breeze bends the light, conjuring shadows and forms, unpredictable sights, sounds like shallow words breathed upon your neck, spirits nipping up at your legs, a cold bone finger reaches gently glances against your ear lobe, just out of your periphery but somehow felt, in these moments, strolling through this old town, as the town observes me when I think I am the observer and not just the interloper, I am unsure if I wish to find a ghostly anomaly, some proof of haunting, of life understood as after or in some other dimension, so sure would be belief if I perceived such a thing, or would the fright be more than I could bear, or the disbelief as logic might kick in and overwhelm the sense sold of my eyes, all of these things boil up inside my cauldron mind, the curiosity makes possibility lurk around every corner, surely if there were lost souls they would be here, here in this old shore town, shipwrecks, lover’s jilted, homicide guilted, accidental dispatch, all captured within the memories of these victorian walls, somewhere in a window, I am sure, I would see a form, or a passing glance, a glow, an orb, would I trust my sober nature or lay favor to my rampaging imagination, for I do not know, for I never found out, this evening, as all the creeping I perceive is the autumn playing out final tricks, before the time of the dead of has conspired, to slow down life to the point, of silence, except for the ever dull roar of the ocean waves, just over the dunes, just out of sight.

Music: Cream – As You Said

Cape May NJ Sunset Beach…

Cape May NJ Sunset Beach…

IMG_4066yeah, well, sometimes you go for the low hanging fruit, sunset beach is just… one of those things you do in Cape May, regardless of season, it works, it is a destination for a reason, I huddled in place for just the right moment, and damn is it sweet, so if you think you know New Jersey, you don’t, is there a reason we have a bad reputation ? sure… but the real Jersey shore is more than people know…  that wreck out there?  that is the SS Atlantus… ’nuff said.

Cape May travel log part 1…

Cape May travel log part 1…

clouds cloudy dawn dramatic
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

I wish I could make movies, with the film of my eyes, so I could really show you what I am seeing, not just in the usual dimensions, but with the actual lens of my mind, I am driving, down a way, I know so well, and literally a countdown, New Jersey is many things but one thing in particular is the spine, the Parkway, the numbered roadway that seems to control destiny here in the garden state, tonight I am travelling, due south, or as far south as will allow, down from 131 all the way to exit 0, ZERO, and then a bit further, in the summer months this would be a head scratching mess, bumper to bumper, taillights, eye locked eye fights, horns, accidents causing throngs of frustration rippling up the roadway for miles, but not today, and certainly not tonight, the sky is spitting, and misting, the bright dashes embedded in the asphalt road are hypnotic and monotonous both, eight lanes in the busy part of the state become four and then down to two, bridges over unseen waters rush on by, there are very few cars on the road tonight, a Sunday, to be sure, but the hour is not that late even if it seems later, six PM sharp seems more like midnight dark, but who am I to say, exit 42 just went by, not much further to go, no GPS, no maps, I know all this route well, a ritual perhaps, my yearly coming here, well, there, when I get there, Cape May, all these years and I never thought to research the name as to why ‘May‘, and the thought will probably be gone before exit 30, or 12, or the Wildwoods, ever so closer to my shore resort destination…

exit-zero-cape-may-bill-cannon

I pass exit zero, without much or any fanfare, the land seems bare, wrapped up and tucked away for winter, not barren or abandoned, just buttoned down to the point of just enough, I suppose this is what hibernation is, except for humans living in places where the wind, wake and weather dictate behavior, for a time, for a season, this time, so I have arrived, a resort town, directly on the ocean, of course the hotel is located on ‘Beach Avenue’, the town is not quite empty, but the word “vacancy” is in more display than car lights on the thoroughfares, as a matter of fact the traffic lights are also put to sleep, just a blinking yellow where proper popular crossings used to be, no matter, there is nothing to encounter, just the misty rain in the streetlights light, the blinking yellow light flashes on the sides of the dark buildings like predictable lightning, my old hotel with a parking lot occupied by only one other car, this is why I come here, this time of year, I am almost disappointed someone else is here, but secrets are never kept, and others I suppose might have the same bent, as me, so, I park in my choice of spots, walk into the familiar lobby (as I have stayed here many times over the years), and an older woman checking in is wondering aloud with the hotel employee, “am I the only one here?”, and I answer, “no there is also me”, which seemed to startle her a bit, even if it was not my intent, so I check in, with the gentleman who is more like a kid, I never run into the same person twice, at the desk, in all these years, he’s nice enough, certainly up on his speech about hotel policies, I interject, trying not to be condescending, probably failing, that I am well aware of all these things as I stay here every year going back at least a decade or more, how pompous, but I think he took it fine, with a nervous genuine smile, I made a joke about the parking situation, honestly this is the most empty I have ever seen this place, that suits me just fine, but I am sure the desk worker still has to adhere to his due diligence, and well, good for him, I get my key card, fifth floor, ocean view of course, I imagine I am no where near the two others who are checked in, and I must admit I hope that to be true, I am here to detach, get away, isolate, decompress and all that, a selfish moment, a selfish sentiment, yes, I agree, but sometimes such things are needed, and this is one of those times, and that is why I came.

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Sometimes the familiar is a lull and you lose yourself, you forget to check the details, this is an old hotel, back to the 1800s in fact, you can tell in the hallways, drafty and cold, as is the case tonight, the ceilings are also shorter than you might imagine, hard to tell how many souls have walked these halls, I stop off the elevator to check out the lounge (there is one on each floor), old victorian decor, paint over paint over paint from the years and wear, various books seem random, a complete volume of Funk and Wagnall’s encyclopedia, it seems this little corner survives like a museum outside the reach of the internet, at least for now, the faded yellowing pages are somehow soothing, even if I am not going to bother reading, books can be experiences in many ways, even on display, such as this, left like little presents for those who wish to unwrap them, but for now, I would rather get to my room, unpack all this junk I have wrought upon my back, all my gizmos and electronics, this laptop on which I type, all the work to break them down and build them back up seems absurd for just a short week, but a creature of habit needs to eat, so here I am and doing all these so I might have a level of comfort that I brought with me to this place.

end part 1

another leftover (dig in, won’t ya?)…

another leftover (dig in, won’t ya?)…

close up of food in plate
Photo by Tranmautritam on Pexels.com

um, leftovers, I should really post all things at once but sometimes things get lost, I have my journals to be sure, but man my handwriting is pure… garbage  🙂  so this is one I forgot to post from my visit to the place in new jersey I love almost… the most, Cape May


 

Upon Cape May Wildlife Refuge, Cape May NJ 10.12.2018

I sit here, with my friend willow brush

your tufts so soft to the touch

sea lake pond hdr
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

designed to be stroked by the wind

bending as she sways to swing

how long have you waited

for just the right breeze

to release your young

and ease into deathly reprieve


to see where I actually wrote this (literally on a beach in a storm) check out this vid, I was in a tidal area (marsh) where the ocean meets um… the marsh… very unique ecosystem, unfortunately I had to clean up about 17 beer cans/bottles thrown into the brush… that pisses me off, I am not some rabid environmentalist (I am just a classic nature lover), and hell, if I was a kid living near there I would probably party on the beach too, but man alive, how hard is it to clean up after your damn self…

 

More poems from the beach (and an anecdote)…

More poems from the beach (and an anecdote)…

sea beach sand sun
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

These were written @ Higbee beach in Cape May NJ known for “Cape May Diamonds“, also if you walk far enough south you hit Sunset Beach with the USS Atlantus (a concrete hull ship that sank just offshore), a little ditty about Higbee, I went there to find some new/less used beaches on vacation (when I am on the beach I am interested in walking the tide and looking at nature not sunbathing), so I walked all the way down the beach south (about 1.2 miles) from where Higbee meets David Douglass park (Cape May / Lewes ferry), so, in my infinite wisdom I decided to take the nature trail back instead of the beach… oh boy, first, I was wearing my crocs, and they ain’t walking shoes, secondly I left my sun screen and other stuff out of my pack because this is october and well… I didn’t expect 80 degrees and blazing direct burning sun ! so… I was hella wrong, it was like I was moses trekking through the wilderness, all sand (and if you have tried to hike in sand you know how much fun that is! – not!), sand and scrub brush… and a winding trail more confusing than choose your own adventure books, it was torture, I still have the remnants of blisters on my feet (2 weeks later), winding paths not in the scrub forest, all out in the open in the valleys of dunes just off the beach which I thought I was near the surf (but every time I endeavored to find it I couldn’t), and of course there was no other people on this trail, thankfully I have a good deal of hiking experience from my youth @ camp Sequoia in the Catskills, so after 3 hours of hiking (and cursing) I finally made it back to civilization (the parking lot), man, it sucked…. I am a hard headed person but this wore me down certainly, so maybe that adds to the ingredients of my poetry ? maybe… so here it is…

Upon Higbee Beach, Cape May NJ 10.8.2018

I walk the beach whole

I learn the shore lines

the neighborhoods of waves

the bindings of tides

between dunes and break,

I stride casually

soft wet sand sinking slightly under foot

beach sandals in one hand by straps

walking over footprints fading

as if I’m never there,

passing sun bathers and gazers

wondering what sort of tide brought them in

and from what inland shores

accents and manners float

in and out with a subtle roar

ghost crabs, run to their burrows

horseshoes right themselves

deft barb on tail

turning like clocks in the coming surf

turning to noon out to sea

these ancient ambassadors

far older than these


Upon Higbee Beach (pt 2), Cape May NJ 10.8.2018

the sand, the sound

the tide, the wind

broken footsteps trail off

the sun travels deliberately across the sky

the beach is low, for now, exposed

tide peels and shipwrecks, and their crews be told

left up upon the beach, stranded until tidal moon

or worse yet

found by the mouth of a hunting gull,

time seems to stand still, even within all this motion

but if ever there was a picture frame

to explain the seduction of passing time

this is that masterpiece

a picasso, a davinci, a michealangelo’s chapel

so easily this recognized among all other work

for this, strokes struck by nature herself

my own steps break off into the distance now

as if a part of this whole existence

at least for a little while

at least, for this memory

as least, nor that moment passed, just now

Poems from the beach…

Poems from the beach…

green grass beside sea
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

These were written in Cape May NJ @ David Douglas Park.  I am trying to transport my mind back to that time… it seems so distant now as all vacations/downtime does.


Upon David Douglas Park, Cape May NJ 10.9.2018

the clouds are collapsing, upon the last rays

as we spin away from the sun, passing below the horizon

the clock now turns to dawn

as we approach the time light’s passing

the flocks, have gone, to find their beds

to where? so many, just moments ago

filling the sky and shore with wings

like shadow cut outs

cast about by a child’s whim

all lays calmer without the light

night has a way of subduing sight


Upon David Douglas Park, Cape May NJ (day 2, after the remnants of Hurricane Michael came through) 10.12.2018

walking the beach alone

but there are many residents

and the constant roar

I talk to the birds

I ask them questions

I know they can not answer

I walk this beach alone

seeking fulfillment, enlightenment

from that was before

and will be after

I walk this beach alone.


This is what the beach was like the morning after the remnants of Hurricane Michael rolled through… it was pretty nuts!  The day before it looked like this !

Comments, thoughts and critique is always appreciated, thanks!