at spring tide, the storm washed the beach

back to the dunes, swept up tire tracks,

recast the sand into ocean bottom.

the beginning of cycles.


seed-heavy sea oats strut the dunes

waiting for the harvester wind.


winds lift waves, currents push,

undertow pulls, into and out of sync,

as waves cross and cover each other.


seeds wander into footprints,

cling to waves of sand.

settle in creases.


I jump out on top of the swell,

am lifted over the tow,

flipped eight feet in water,

and crash into crushed shell.


in dark, crabs wait for us to pass.


the sun beats clouds out of the sea.


coming in, the spring tide pulls the beach out,

cliffs stand where sand lay sloping.


the storm surge hides life.


gulls tread wind.


a haze connects sea and sky.


an inch of a crab scurries into its den,

as waves toss sand and shell,

rearrange his beach.

it jumps out.


a white relic of the ocean,

a corner of a cooler.


sanderlings scoot after morsels.


kelp and sargasso clump on the shore.


billows of white water halo the sea.


sand ridges against a post

gray with water and sun.


in lulls between dunes, mosquitos cover

ankles, knees, wrists, necks.


blip, the beacon marks

the night for sailors, blip.


sand settles in the crotches of suits.


sea oats bend and flail.


winds hurl sand down the beach, shards

on the rim of tire ruts perch on columns

of sand.


my foot’s festering scrape scored

running on shells.


water opens like a fan.


a light bulb, whiskey bottle, a trap’s green

glass globe of a buoy,

a frisbee, the foam of a seat cushion.


as jets skirt the coastline,

gulls fly in formation.


two fresh crab legs abandoned on the strand.


sandhoppers spring.


the sun slips

through my skin.


surf rushes up cliffs, sprays backward.

sand crags collapse.


shells mound.


wings spread, feathers splayed, buried

head first, a gull’s feet stick up

through sand.


salt films windows.


gusts lift wooden chairs.


telephone poles stride down the bank

into the haze.


surf water churned full of sand,

seaweed and trash.


tide pools sink.


the skeleton of a chaise lounge does not

face the path through the dunes.


stilt sandpipers read the shore.


waves cross, lift each other up,

roll each other down.


a section of plywood and a plank

wash up.


east of dunes are the shadows of sunset.


waves outweigh me,

push me around.


nipples twinge with salt.


pelicans swoop.


as tide flows out

shell pop out of sand.


blood adopts the sea’s pulse.



Copyright James Phoenix 2017

updated 5/7/2017