Seaweed Cabbage

Seaweed at Refugio_4135518072_m

What was that she said about the skin
on his hands and forearms,
seaweed cabbage
boiling on stove, “That looks bad.”

Blue dark wet orange oil damp oars drift awake
dawn dress coffee smoke brown falls upon brown
slow walk down curved sandy path to the water
empty nets sea grass tired boats in fresh tide wait.

Surf sound spooning shingling
smooth rocks growing on his arms
that opposite real rocks grow larger
with each receding tide.

He thinks about love water
work moon sleepy fog
legislated blather laughter
unrequited smiles.

He’s not an especially proud man
unless provoked unnecessarily.
He has a few books on a shelf
in the kitchen he touches evenings.

He thinks severity and frequency
as all men do capacity purpose
of hymns folk songs and surf music
and silence at the end of the path.

He’s no interests but cars and guitars
stars in her eyes sand on her skin salt hair
gloss on her fingernails white
daisies between her wiggling toes.

Wave after wave forgotten fishes
swim past her hands sleeved
sheathed knives
embraced recorded let go.

At the cannery he never did learn
to stand still that fisherman’s value
he no longer wanted his friend
who now fished a desk in Admin.

The smell of tar and turpentine as he cleaned her feet
shampoo that smelled like bubble gum
steel shavings and lead chips the plumber left behind
carob seeds rotting on fog wet boardwalk.

Ocean fish air and orange crabs on ice at wood wharf stalls
after shave and Brylcreem Saturday Night adjectives
bingo sock hop carnies and a new noun in town
cool morning breeze on an angel’s moonburned skin.

10 thoughts on “Seaweed Cabbage

  1. Reading this I envisioned the Creature of the Black Lagoon, or some creature reminiscent, walking out of the moonlit water, the waves breaking behind him, as he turns into a particular man. As he walks up from the shore toward a small town, with each step the webbing of his prints gradually turning into toes, he doesn’t completely transform but retains aspects of his creatureliness, his hair not exactly slicked back like a 50’s greaser but making one think of that. “A new noun in town.” This is an elemental man, in touch with the primal, who can go back into the water at any time and swim with the fishes, or live on land for a time and blend in good enough to interact with regular people. But he’s different. Adjusting between worlds there’s at first a shortness of breath. It’s in the rhythm of this poem.

    His woman mate is interesting, always near or with him in these poetic flows and eddies, these shiftings between worlds and transformations, mostly however unspeaking, mostly doing in her own right in nature, maybe leading the way? Whatever the case may be, this is a great dance to be witnessing, definitely more beautifully sublime than anything that could be seen on “Dancing with the Stars.”

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    • Thanks for that, John. Your analysis has me thinking the poem more successful than I may have realized. I suppose that creature is the subconscious, and the lagoon the dream or stoned state (as in turned to stone, as Robert Bly explains – and in mythopoetics), by addiction of any kind or by being subsumed in a system (a cannery) – both moving us farther from a present reality. The rhythm you identified seems in part to be suggested by the omission of articles (the, an, some, etc.), where nouns must stand on their own and might be definite by position, as an individual. In any case, the fisherman enjoys a freedom the cannery worker can’t, but his independence comes at a price. The price of poems?

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