Planted among driftwood
I watch the tide go out
It pulls the sundown with it
& across this scene & against the wind
Man on a motorbike white crash-helmet
His young son rides the gas tank before him
Slows down for the creek mouth
& not too fast up the beach north

Flat dull whistle buoy heard again
and though the wind is right the bell buoy is inaudible

Fat seagull picks at a new hake skeleton
Choosily—not hungry walks away
Returns a moment later,
Room for a few more bites inside

Here comes a family of five
Man prodding with a stick whatever the children test
                          with their fingers
Mama is bundled up naturally cold & yellow plastic bucket
Complaining a little “. . . kind of a long way from the car . . .”

The children explore ahead the beach goes on forever & they
Will see it all this evening they aren’t tired

Motorbike man coming back slows down for them
               & for the creek mouth

Fog joined into fat clouds cover the sun
Move south stretching rivers & islands of blue
Fine moving sheets & shafts of light on the water horizon

I’m not making it, I’m cold, I go into the house.

“Trying Too Hard to Write a Poem Sitting on the Beach” from The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen. © 2007 by Philip Whalen. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Used by permission.