Seaside Thoughts

SEASIDE THOUGHTS                                                          

We used to take an old black sit-up car

down to the sea, some forty miles, to catch the sun

and lace our hair with sand and run

into wake-up waves that cried all day

we’re after you; and always either pushed us in,

face first, as they crashed down on our backs

or tripped us as the sucking ebb backtracked.


And father, still young, before his ravaged bones

would cripple him, before any middle-age spread,

he’d act the sand monster, raised from the dead,

as he emerged from the tomb we’d piled on his body,

allowed only holes to breathe and to see

which child was where, who to chase out there;

who to take captive and lock in his lair.


The world’s edge was as far as we could see

(not yet told, in Geography and History, all about

the drift and split of continents or the rush to mount

invasions from many other shores, which happened

quite regularly) – the sand monster was the only enemy.

Grown-up seaside thoughts now hold sway

(save in the case of sun-soaked popinjays).


We soon understood that, at water’s edge,

we were near foreign parts (take, perhaps,

our dislike of the slippery bladderwrack,

washed up, we guessed, from far off lands. All quite

irrational: these things are just as national as

chicken tikka marsala). But I digress on trivial things:

I want words to silence and make eyes sting.


I sit on the beach, not yet summer, so

cold for a moment – though cold’s really good

when heads need theories and trees need woods;

and I smile at the thought of the Earth lying flat,

with a single small island surrounded by sea.

Most of us know, when the sun’s light has gone,

it leaves our domain to visit another one.


The sand monster never made any news;

he released all his prisoners, bought ice cream for tea –

sweet times, a few summers, way back in the Sixties.

For the rest he toiled hard, far from beaches and harbours,

with their vinegary smells of winkles and chips,

of fish crates and fuel in sputtering blue fishing boats,

the salty sea-breeze sighing the lower notes


of sea shanties sung by ghosts of sailors,

by father’s kind too, who try hard to grin

in the daylight, to weep when the night sets in.

Perhaps they’re too far from the fenceless seas – do they

forget they’re there, for them, for the sad ones, for free?

Our playtime sand monster never answered their call –

but the wind caught his dust, a captive no more.




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Peter Taylor

Wed 13th Mar 2019 21:05

I am indebted to you all, Douglas, Ray, Mr Newberrry, Frances and David, for the time and attention you have paid to this little backwater of children's fun and the hoops for their parents to jump through.

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Wolfgar Miere

Thu 14th Feb 2019 06:06

Hello Peter,

Lovely remembrance here, time takes almost everything from us..hopefully not our memories, but those too sometimes.

Recently I have been thinking of returning to the beaches of my childhood summer holidays, mainly to capture the type of memories you describe here, to remember my youthful happy father before time ravaged his body.

Lovely writing Peter.


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Frances Macaulay Forde

Thu 14th Feb 2019 03:24


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M.C. Newberry

Wed 13th Feb 2019 23:18

The line about the "old black sit-up car" drew me in
easy it is to forget the mundane motor vehicles of yesteryear mixed with the excitement of an outing in the offing within the perimeters
of a child's world far removed from the global news media monster
that devours innocence today.

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Wed 13th Feb 2019 21:34

A sort of salty splashy wonderful dream of a child half excitement, half make believe. Lovely poem Peter


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Douglas MacGowan

Wed 13th Feb 2019 20:47

What a great poem about the nostalgia of being a child and of that child's feelings about his father.

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