A Few Lines from Rehoboth Beach

Dear friend, you were right: the smell of fish and foam
and algae makes one green smell together. It clears
my head. It empties me enough to fit down in my own

skin for a while, singleminded as a surfer. The first
day here, there was nobody, from one distance
to the other. Rain rose from the waves like steam,

dark lifted off the dark. All I could think of
were hymns, all I knew the words to: the oldest
motions tuning up in me. There was a horseshoe crab

shell, a translucent egg sack, a log of a tired jetty,
and another, and another. I walked miles, holding
my suffering deeply and courteously, as if I were holding

a package for somebody else who would come back
like sunlight. In the morning, the boardwalk opened
wide and white with sun, gulls on one leg in the slicks.

Cold waves, cold air, and people out in heavy coats,
arm in arm along the sheen of waves. A single boy
in shorts rode his skimboard out thigh-high, making

intricate moves across the March ice-water. I thought
he must be painfully cold, but, I hear you say, he had
all the world emptied, to practice his smooth stand.

Afternoons at the Lake

I would rather be trapped in an attic with rats than play Monopoly
all the afternoons it takes to lose the last of my money to the already 

superrich 1 percent grandchild, to line up cheap green houses
on my low-rent Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues in a futile attempt

to collect enough to survive the next round of rent on Boardwalk
or Park Place, to feel pitiful gratitude when I Receive for Services

twenty-five dollars. Everything will be gone, save the smallest
denominations, the Asian crayfish will overrun the native,

the autumn olive will proliferate, the tallest thing will grow taller,
will be layered with gold, will turn to gold, will harden its gold heart.

It will squander, jet, pocket, dole, win past wanting to win, dig
the mine shaft, the ore, eat up the hillside, the birds, the whales,

crack the foundations of houses, force the defaulters into the street.
Dice will land as they will, will cause the tiny car to bounce

happily from St. James Place to Indiana Avenue, a galaxy of gobble,
will enable the placement of flamboyant hotels on the coast

where waters wash with exquisite music shoreward, all of it owned
by the God who dwells inside the winning, who has not said

otherwise yet, who owns Free Parking and Jail, who owns the treeless
board, the classy neighborhoods as well as the ones with the rats

and smashed-out windows, the murderous scrawl of languages
on walls, the smiling God holding the center with top hat and cane,

as I at last step out on the dock with my coffee and say to myself
the lines where Keats rhymes “think” with “nothingness do sink.”