Musing of a poet on the rim of the world

I recently submitted a poem to the Morton Marcus Poetry Contest. Morton Marcus was a local Santa Cruz writer, pundit, film critic, and English professor. I had the pleasure of participating in a couple of his classes at Cabrillo College in the mid-seventies. He was an exceptional teacher and a person who left a lasting impression on his students.
I did not win the poetry contest—I’m sure there were many, many entries worthy of first place—however, I did get an email from Catamaran Literary Reader, the competition sponsor, informing me that they were “releasing” my poem back to me. (I hadn’t realized they were holding my work captive; nonetheless, I felt a strange sense of comfort upon its return, like getting your coat back from the hatcheck counter on a dark and stormy night!)

This experience brings to mind questions that, as writers, we often ponder: why do I write, and who (or what) do I write for?
I believe words speak of our commonality. People tend to see and think alike. Males and females of our species are way more alike than different, despite the vast collection of books and articles intoning otherwise. And it is through imagery that humans communicate at our most instinctive level.

The poem I submitted begins with a girl reading a book on the beach—a single image that inspires a stream of consciousness and visual perceptions which continue throughout eight verses—my humble attempt at conveying experiences many of us can relate to.

I’m looking forward to reading the winning poem when it’s published in Catamaran’s next publication. And I’m interested in your thoughts on why you write and who, or what, you write for.


I rose at sunrise, paddleboard in hand.
A girl wrapped in blankets with a book on the beach.
I know her state of mind,
Her consciousness, the images she forms.
The bare essence of language—visual chords
More akin to music than speech.
We recognize our ancestors by feel, not remembrance.
By the emotions of revealed truths.
The sea is flat, glassy in repose.
As I glide over the russet-hued kelp,
Gilded harps play in translucent beds,
The sound deep within the green rooms below.
My father’s child is old now.
Crossing the equator, sails tight to windward,
The appearing wake, a trailing memory
Cutting through the past.
The whaleboats have long departed.
The humpbacks returning to the bay
Their offspring secure for now.
Conception the foundation of eternal life.
A colossus breaches in the distance,
The ageless cadence of lifting then diving
Transcendent, divine, suspended.
Then a thunderous descent into the deep.
The morning sun dances Oz-like upon the surface.
Reflected maidens glitter on golden rays.
The sky is white, the clouds turn blue,
A pelican’s flight silent on the breeze.
Touch the windlass for good luck,
Tighten the chain, loosen the anchor
Toward the Santa Lucia Mountains,
Silhouetted on the southern reach.
Neptune’s breath descends from the west,
A disc harrow draws across the flat field.
Furrows shimmer and dance in the breeze
As rising nutrients fill the watery topsoil.
The sun’s magic awakens the breeding pool.
An upwelling of plankton is born,
Spreading its migration to the far horizon.
Embryos in the stream, an infinity of living matter.
These ancient waters, these maps of time,
The liquid dawn of earthly life.
I cup my hand and sip the cold broth,
The salt swirling over my tongue and gums.
When I was a young boy I knew old men
Who knew men who held slaves,
A short bridge to a time not long ago,
A mouthful of water taken from the sea.
A boat steams from the harbor,
Cloaked passengers stand sentry-like, purposeful,
Their gaze fixed on the receding shore,
It heaves to near the Mile Buoy, due south of the wharf
And begins a slow drift towards Pleasure Point.
A bottle is passed, pressed to solemn lips,
Ash and bone, then flowers and prayers
All cast to the wind, all cast to the tides.
The girl with the book on the beach is gone
But her silent voice echoes in my mind.
Blankets and coolers and colorful umbrellas
Now occupy her once physical space.
She has prompted the words on this page
So she shall exist henceforth through time.
Her image hovering like a kite above the sand,
The abstract a reality, her presence a poem.

Musings of a poet on the rim of the world

Images: Jennie 1 and Jennie 2 by Buzz Anderson.
“The Girl on the Beach” copyright 2023 by Buzz Anderson.

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One Comment
  1. Glenda Whitlow

    I love this! So beautiful Buz !

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