Thunder cracks open

a pounding rain that rinses clean

your new marigolds

and winter’s grime.


You tromp back out for the avocado

while i stay behind

to unload our bags from earlier

and figure out where everything belongs.


I browse your saints and sinners—

Mary and Frida

Jesus and Genet

Buddha and The Book Thief,

“Finest in the marketplace,” you’d say—

and light candles

(though the storm may be clearing),

pressing pretzel crumbs into a napkin at the table,


just one more trace of me here,

as you climb back up the stairs

and i wonder

what else we might be missing.


I say something that makes you laugh,

a crack about angry yoga people and cigarettes,


and you snap your head back into the wall,

which makes you laugh harder


but which hurts like a smack across the face,

I can tell.


With our overmilked coffees we stumble down the boards,

elbows brushing, hands unsure where to go;


we bite our tongues

as the holy rollers sing and sway to Jesus,


the irony of the gay man dancing among them

not lost on you and I,


just a couple of sinners,

holding on, letting go, searching for the right path


like the line of surfers bobbing softly,

patiently treading the 5 o’clock sea,


wishing their timing had been better

as the waves fade to foam the color of piss


and the orange summer sky

turns suddenly gray.

gray sea



Walking among the detritus—
a feather and rusty screw
a red leaf torn away from its roots—
I let the sea wash over my shoes
and hum a song to you
on the hard nights
you’re the ace right
These waves could swallow your mountains,
the surfers stand no chance,
even the boats simply rock and dance,
we’re all just mixed-up pebbles
tossed up on the sand,
waiting for a hand
to choose and rinse us off
like these tiny orange shells,
mini saucers made of carnival glass,
which I would gladly carry to you
on a carousel horse
made of water and foam
just to place them in your palm
or the crook of your door
wiping clean the miles
between those hills
and this November shore.

(italicized lyric is from “Tiderays” by Volcano Choir)