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Gone

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Mark
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:19 am

Gone

Post by Mark » Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:40 pm

Revision of a posted piece from a couple years back.


Gone

I’m seventeen years old again,
back in my hometown and I see
the young me, walking down the beach
toward the sea.


At water’s edge, a foaming surge hisses
around my toes as I drop my board
to strap on collar and leash.
The water’s cold, it’s winter-time
and the early sun gleams liquid gold,
sparkling behind the offshore spray.
I have no wetsuit, we’re too poor
for that and a second-hand board,
so I pretend to my friends
I find rubber a hindrance.
Anyways, the water’s not so cold.

I grit my teeth and wade out with the board,
watching the backline as a set heaves and peels,
speeding across the too-shallow outer bank.  
I slip onto the board and start paddling
in a familiar play of skinny muscles
that feel like they can go all day.
I push under through the mid-break,
stroke doggedly for backline,
duck-diving as a wave explodes in fury.
The power of the bursting bomb
pushes me deep, and then I point
for the surface, sleek as an otter,
riding the buoyancy in a rush of bubbles.

I’m alone out here this morning;
it’s too early, too cold and too shallow
for the usual pack of rippers.
I drift out next to the old wooden pier,
they say it’s to be demolished as unsafe.
Removing the pier will destroy the breaks,
on either side, the Wedge and Kontiki.

But I don’t really give a fuck anymore,
like my buddies I’m off to the Army soon,
wrapped in government conscription,
delivered fresh from high school.
(Nobody I know is going to university,
who the hell has money for that?)
Two goddamn years’ military service
is like a life sentence. And somehow
I know nothing will be the same again.

I’m being press-ganged into the infantry
which mostly means a border war posting,
where killing and other bad shit happens.
Often, there are names on the TV news.
Rifleman so-and-so, Corporal so-and-so,
killed in action, blah-blah-dead.
I check my feelings on the matter of mortality
and decide I’m not afraid of fighting communism.

I catch a short wave, kicking out as it closes;
oh man, it feels good to be in the water again.
The ocean’s cool and clean, the hollow waves  
smooth as rippled glass and the beer headache
I brought to the beach is gone.

I met this chick Michelle at a house party
that got crashed by our crew last night.
I inched her bra off in a back room but
after that all I got was her phone number,   
now just a smudge of blue on my wrist.
But maybe our paths will cross again,
been a lot of house parties this year.

I hear whistling from the beach. A surprise.
Both my older brothers are on the shore,
beckoning at me to get out of the water.
What do they want? They don’t surf -
they play football and drink and fight
and talk about jobs and cars and money
and screwing randy divorcees.
It must be bad news, what else?

I turn my back and stare out to sea
and decide they can wait for me
as I wait for a good last wave.


                                                                             

indar
Posts: 1747
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:00 pm

Re: Gone

Post by indar » Fri Jun 19, 2020 5:54 pm

Hi Mark,

Sometimes I swear i can sense my former self in some places revisited. I get that from this write. I think these time-travels help heal old hurts.

I am reminded of a poem I posted on the way-back forum, MWC:

Memory Lane

I drove to the old neighborhood
and parked by the house.

There I was at fifteen
drifting in the yard
in a white sailor blouse
and that red skirt.

I opened the window
and said:
I promise you
I'll make the rest of your life
worth
what you are about
to go through.

 

User avatar
Gyppo
Posts: 467
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:28 pm
Location: UK

Re: Gone

Post by Gyppo » Fri Jun 19, 2020 6:48 pm

Mark,

A deceptively gentle unfolding of one of those turning points in life, where you know everything is going to change, that life is about to grab you by the scruff of neck and shake you, but you can't truly imagine how much or in what way.  Good or bad you just know it's out there, waiting for you.

A fine mixture of teenage testosterone and introspection.  'The water's not that cold.'

When you posted the original of this was there a reference to 'the Great White's prowling beyond the surf line', or am I thinking of a different poem of yours?  If the latter it had the same feeling of transition between two stages of life.

Gyppo
I've been writing ever since I realised I could.  Storytelling since I started talking.  Poetry however comes and goes  ;-)

User avatar
Mark
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:19 am

Re: Gone

Post by Mark » Sat Jun 20, 2020 9:19 am

Thanks for reading my loong poem and for comments, Linda and Gyppo.

Thanks for sharing that saucy piece, Linda. No one forgets the first time, do they...

No, no sharks, Gyppo, I've never encountered any in the ocean fortunately, just dolphins. 

Linda, your piece reminded me of another piece...

Bleached

I listen for nostalgia in his footsteps
down a lane from the railway station,
past a red-roof house slammed shut
on the blue collar side of the tracks.


Oh, and the military I ended up in... a forgotten conflict. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZpjk_QWpac


 

Tim J Brennan
Posts: 646
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:59 pm

Re: Gone

Post by Tim J Brennan » Mon Jun 22, 2020 12:54 am

I like this, Mark. Not seeing the original doesn't matter. Sometimes, looking back at a keeper, makes it more of a keeper.

S8: Not sure I like the past "met" when all other stanzas are quasi-present tense.

Not sure I need the preamble either. Most of the recollections would throw it back far enough for a reader to recognize setting. If seventeen holds some special quality that needs to be there, okay, but I don't see the need.

Enjoyed.

User avatar
Mark
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:19 am

Re: Gone

Post by Mark » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:55 am

Thanks for your comments, Tim, and my apologies for the belated response. I'm glad you enjoyed the write, I sometimes wonder about these longer pieces as there seems to be an inverse relationship between poetic-element density and length, for this amateur anyway.
Interesting observation about the tense usage in S8 - the recollection itself is sort of a shifted present tense and the 'I met' is past tense but only relative to the recollection tense i.e. the previous night.
Seventeen is relevant but not apparent in the writing, I guess. It was a transition age for me - I finished high school, worked for six months and then got drafted while still only 17, roughly a year younger than my fellow draftees.  

indar
Posts: 1747
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:00 pm

Re: Gone

Post by indar » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:14 pm

Did you revise this again after the first time I commented or did I suffer a small blackout the first time I read it? This is definitely a poem written by a man for and about men and their relationships within the family and to the earth and communities. I would not want to se a single thing edited out but I  can't help but think the second stanza would make a wonderful beginning. If then it was followed by the first the reader would get that this is memory from an older perspective.

Love the poem.

User avatar
Mark
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:19 am

Re: Gone

Post by Mark » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:11 pm

Thanks for the re-visit, Linda. Nope, no revision....  Interesting observation about the placement of the, er, flashback signboard, let's call it. It's a tad awkward but has to be somewhere... will think your good suggestion over, thank you again. 

Matty11
Posts: 480
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:58 am

Re: Gone

Post by Matty11 » Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:14 pm

Good one Mark, very readable, a consistent voice and the narrative feels authentic. I'll roll some options your way below...

I’m seventeen years old again,
back in my hometown and I see
the young me, walking down the beach
toward the sea.

At water’s edge, a foaming surge hisses
around my toes as I drop my board
to strap on collar and leash.
The water’s cold, it’s winter-time,
and the early sun gleams liquid gold... move the comma to get the enjambment?
sparkling behind the offshore spray.....sparkling through the offshore spray
I have no wetsuit, we’re too poor
for that, and a second-hand board,... the additional info?, poverty already established?
so I pretend to my friends
I find rubber a hindrance.
Anyways, the water’s not so cold.

I grit my teeth and wade out with the board,
watching the backline as a set heaves and peels,
speeding across the too-shallow outer bank.
I slip onto the board and start paddling
in a familiar play of skinny muscles....like the age related physicality there
that feel like they can go all day.
I push under through the mid-break,
stroke doggedly for backline,
duck-diving as a wave explodes in fury........as a furious wave explodes.
The power of the bursting bomb...The power of the bursting ordnance (sonics with otter)
pushes me deep, and then I point
for the surface, sleek as an otter,
riding the buoyancy in a rush of bubbles.

I’m alone out here this morning;
it’s too early, too cold and too shallow
for the usual pack of rippers.
I drift out next to the old wooden pier,
they say it’s to be demolished as unsafe.
Removing the pier will destroy the breaks,
on either side, the Wedge and Kontiki.

But I don’t really give a fuck anymore,
like my buddies I’m off to the Army soon,
wrapped in government conscription,
delivered fresh from high school.
(Nobody I know is going to university,
who the hell has money for that?)
Two goddamn years’ military service
is like a life sentence. And somehow.......................is a life sentence
I know nothing will be the same again.

I’m being press-ganged into the infantry
which mostly means a border war posting,
where killing and other bad shit happens.
Often, there are names on the TV news.
Rifleman so-and-so, Corporal so-and-so,
killed in action, blah-blah-dead.
I check my feelings on the matter of mortality
and decide I’m not afraid of fighting communism....so you are saying this is a cause worth dying for?

I catch a short wave, kicking out as it closes;
oh man, it feels good to be in the water again.
The ocean’s cool and clean, the hollow waves ...The ocean’s cool and cleansing,
smooth as rippled glass and the beer headache
I brought to the beach is gone.

I met this chick Michelle at a house party
that got crashed by our crew last night.
I inched her bra off in a back room but
after that all I got was her phone number, ....got crashed/ got was...after that all I had
now just a smudge of blue on my wrist.
But maybe our paths will cross again,
been a lot of house parties this year.

I hear whistling from the beach. A surprise.
Both my older brothers are on the shore,
beckoning at me to get out of the water.
What do they want? They don’t surf -
they play football and drink and fight
and talk about jobs and cars and money
and screwing randy divorcees.
It must be bad news, what else?

I turn my back and stare out to sea
and decide they can wait for me
as I wait for a good last wave.

hope that helps some

Phil

User avatar
Mark
Posts: 369
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:19 am

Re: Gone

Post by Mark » Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:13 pm

Thanks for your astute comments, Phil. I'll probably revise again in a year or so...

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