South Beach

This poem “South Beach” was written back in 2010 and later published in my first poetry chapbook “Madrona Grove” in 2013. It is what some would call a “process poem” where the writer uses the art of poetry to process a real event in their life. Of all the poems in the book THIS is the number one poem that generates an email, phone call or a conversation to me from the reader. I’m glad this poem has touched so many. When I read it, even 11 years later, a part of me is back on that beach. I can still hear the waves, I remember the eagle. That was the year of “no more.”

Cattle Point Lighthouse, San Juan Island, Washington state. South Beach (upper left)
Photo credit: https://mikereidphotography.com/ Please visit his website.

South Beach
by Shannon Laws

Often, we would walk South Beach together
That long large-pebbled beach
along the Salish Sea
on the island’s west side

Short, salt water waves
lap up against the shore there,
constant rhythm set by the wind,
like a slow rock tumbler
sifting for agates

Brown cliffs of San Juan
barely hold a road on top itself
Large crumbles of dirt clots
lay at its feet predicting its fate

Hard soles are needed to walk this beach
The stones just large enough to
aggravate the arches as you walk,
Hamstrings pull heavy with each step

Once in a while,
whenever it wants to,
a large eagle can be found
perched on beach wood

He owns that beach and all who pass
His royal brow gives no doubt

This is my favorite beach, you tell me, one foggy morning

We tried again to walk together
I walked ’til I reached the Eagle King,
you continued alone into the mist
Mystery always favored over familiar
I sit and watch you heavy step away

Alone you go into the fog
leaving me to sit with the eagle
You continue until a low cloud
consumes you from my sight

I imagine you reach the end
where the cliffs give way to the shore
and the landscape bends around
to the fields at Cattle point
I saw you in my mind
alone and happy with your thoughts
and the sea

I sit and watch,
You walk and ponder

A year later,
You sat and watched
as I walked off the island
You let me go that year
just like I let you
walk the beach
alone



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Poem: Groaning with Graffiti

In the style of Denise Levertov, poet (1923-1997)

Dionysos_satyr_Altemps_Inv8606_n3
The Ludovisi Dionysus with panther, satyr and grapes on a vine (Palazzo Altemps, Rome) Dionysus: God of the Grape Harvest, Wine-making, Wine, Ritual Madness, Religious Ecstasy, Fertility and Theatre.

Three years the poem

of your body, of my

eyes upon your body

of my hands reading

each muscle—

Stroking, sweeping the

scent in the rite of

worship, going down

from the beat of a neck

vein, along broad shoulders,

twisted hair trail,

belly to cock.

For three years that poem, unwritten,

trapped in my mind, not wanting to

share that I lie with Dionysus,

fear that women would take my treasure

or a god, hearing my boast, would end you

~SPL

ariadne_theseus_dionysus_naxos_big
Ariadne is abandoned in Naxos, not knowing she will become the wife of mighty Dionysus Painting by John William Waterhouse