The Ocean Inside The Shell

entry picture

The salty sea spray sprinkles my skin,

like summer showers

That begin 

Then end 


I stand in front of a crust forming at the edge of the beach


Splintered, softened wood 



Shiny when wet

Their colours

Like common jewels

Topaz, ruby, emerald, turquoise, coral pink, terracotta

All there for the picking

All at my feet

This November afternoon


This could be me 

Then aged seven or eight

On holiday

Staring at the sea, listening

Head cocked 

To the ocean

Inside the shell

Clasped tightly

To my right ear

I’d scrawled my name in the sand already

Thinking it quite a daring thing to do

But someone had beaten me to it first

And  made clear their undying love for Brenda

So I worked at least ten or twelve feet away

Not wanting to look like a saboteur

Mum and Dad sat wisely 

In the shadowed safety of the 

Grey promenade wall

Cool and relaxed against the crumbling concrete

A carrier bag filled with butties



By their side

I can just about hear my Dad 

Shouting, embarrassingly

Telling me to roll up my pants

“ Roll your bloody pants up John, roll em up!

They’ll get wet through”

A huge splash 

And it was already too late

Mocked by the waters 

I was  soaked straight through

The exhilaration

The suddenness

Taking me by surprise, 

And I laughed so hard

Was so shocked

That I forgot  for a few brief seconds

About being self conscious 

And worried


Other lads playing football screamed loudly

One of them pointing

Laughing at my watery encounter

I thought they were vulgar 

But secretly

I wanted to be like them,

Not caring

Not concerned what others might think

Not teary eyed 


Mum and Dad standing up 

Wave towels


For me to  dry off my pale, sea splashed body

Dad shouts again

“Come on John! Tha’ll catch thi death of cold theer!”


Waving back before he could muster up breath and shout out again

I start to run 

Then walk slowly

And with great trepidation 

For fear of judgement

From the other lads

Looking around me

I begin to make my way back 

Passing judgemental stares

And, predictably

The usual verbal abuse

Bare footedly

Zig zagging a route 


Dead crabs


And other potential hazards

beachchildhoodfamilyholidaysmemoriesmum and dadshell

◄ Disturbing The Dead


Robert Haigh

Fri 11th Sep 2020 17:09

An interesting write. Nostalgic in a good way. Sometimes it is good to look back and remember earlier chapters of our lives.

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Wed 20th May 2020 20:32

Really good John!
This subject matter always rings with me, it's just another past episode, a slice of nostalgic pie that you excel at!
I often come away from your poems feeling both melancholy and inspired to write something myself... Well done as ever.. R

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chris yates

Tue 21st Apr 2020 23:40

Thought provoking underlying conflicts in a young person's life with regards to parents and their control on life in general a really well written poem on the reality of our life in the spectrum of who we are it perceive ourselves to be as we grow up in this world

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Fri 15th Nov 2019 15:28

Loved this poem. You can really paint a picture of your childhood that a lot of people can relate to.
Especially liked your Dad calling you and embarrassing you in front of your peers.
An excellent piece.

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