Revere Beach in Spring
Forget that purple seaweedy
end of it, with the gross stuff
and the carnivorous sandflies
in the rattle of dried grasses,
obligatory pieces of dried shit,
the bad stories the phytoplankton
tell the sea worms, the messes,
the city having its squalid dream
that is hard to forget, Esmé,
but why would you? It’s April
and there are grandmothers
wrapped like Bedouins
with flat Irish mouths
and punky grandchildren
in the vast sands of different life,
the International flights hooking
down eight-hour early afternoon
loads from Heathrow, Paris
and Munich, enormous as rocs
flying over apartment buildings
their wheels down and wings up.
You get to the middle of the beach,
finally you can see some lighthouses,
the green and the gunmetal water.
It’s terrible to read biographies
of Sylvia Plath and look
at the pincer of her Winthrop
and the pincer of near Nahant,
peninsular from the subverted
bowl or crab body of Revere Beach.
The ocean tanker out towards
the open water of the bay
tilts to one side, a hat, and guys
who have been working outside
or drinking indoors list to the side,
and nobody is good looking
at all. To the seagulls with blood
mottles, this is one big Clam House.
They squawk about it. Have you been out
to the Clam House? Big surf clams
that whole beach, tilting over,
water dribbling out of them,
they try to get their stomach feet
back down into salt muck.
Practically too much clam.
People with strong guts,
the Japanese call them out
for soup and if they were smaller,
they would be cherry stone dozens
on some menus, but most people
figure they are deformed
by waste, tainted, tattooed, gangland
specimens, or bone-head mutants
who break the springs inside
the seats of tractor trailer seats
and have the 64 ounce cups of spew,
snuff tobacco-dipping, inbred
bumpkins of the liminal world
gone to seed, just dangerous
and yucky, like the time
I saw a spent condom next
to a faded rifle cartridge, a broken X.
For the clams, Revere Beach is hell
and Valhalla, dry places
pried open, broken down
into fragments, then sand,
soared up to the sky in the beaks
of Valkyrie gulls, while in distant
clouds, shrouded airplanes reflect
and glow upwards, angelic flights.
These things survived for awhile.
Poem about Novels
After blue streets out
of town to the suburbs,
cardinal red riverside or lakeside berries
and the normal crosshatching of the grasses
so the bored driver sees a shot of grenadine
or the bored walker reads the Book of Kells at every step.
The entire human past
did not need much convincing to go to sleep either,
which accounts for the novel form.
After all the beech trees on Brattle Street,
it’s all Mt. Auburn Cemetery
and then Watertown after that,
the straps on your shoulders
or a whale’s baleen
and a caul folded a million times
in a gift box: earrings, a great gift.
Eventually, you come to another Broadway.
Instead of my friend needing chemo,
I wish that she were just walking
in the northern neighborhoods
with those cookies they sell around here,
the flat ones with too much flour in them.
The acorns pop off the car hoods
where the grass is short in the arcade
space where you enter an old building.
And the ladies and even some men
who have tightened up at yoga
cut through the cafe with their scrolls,
could show a little more bliss now and then.