Monday, November 18, 2013

Great White

After being flicked through the air
on the tail of the Sea Serpent, then swallowed 

with a series of molar-rattling jolts
by the rickety wooden skeleton of the Great White
we soothed our nerves on the gentle ascent of the Ferris Wheel
Stopping at the top, the basket gently swinging,
the sea and sky as dull and gray
as those photo booth snapshots I had to hide
to keep you from tearing them up, saying your face
looked washed-out and pasty, that you looked fat.

We took advantage of a brief break in the fog
 to lay out on the beach, pale legs burning
even though there wasn’t any sun. I tried in vain
to coax you into the waves
but you preferred to read on your blanket in the sand.
That night we drank along with the Irish hooligans
who flee the Emerald Isle every Summer
immigrating all the way to New Jersey
to work the pier at Wildwood, 
all of us drinking piss beer
and screaming along to Neil Diamond.

We stumbled drunkenly down the middle of the deserted street
past a storefront that optimistically declared itself
the future site of the Doo-Wop Museum
past the countless motels and crab shacks
back to your grandmother’s beach house, an old boarding house
that still had brass numbers on all the bedroom doors,
where we collapsed, too drunk and tired to fuck
The next day we sopped up our hangovers
with stacks of pancakes at a shitty boardwalk breakfast joint
looked on in disbelief at the Wack an Iraq game
where you could try to splatter
poorly-paid actors dressed as Saddam Hussein
and Osama bin Laden with paintball pellets.

As grim as it all was, even in retrospect,
some Summer nights I wish I was back at the shore with you,
wish we still had an afternoon together
before we had to speed back home so you could shower
and change for your shift at the video store.
But it's been years, and you're married now,
and we killed both Saddam and bin Laden,
though not with paint pellets.
I wonder if they ever did build that Doo-Wop Museum.
A monster hurricane tore up a lot of the boardwalk,
I wonder if it gutted the Great White.
Even after all these years
those gray days stare back at me
with their dead black eyes
tear at me with row upon row
of sad, beautiful teeth

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