The Halfway House of the Sea – a poem by Don Brandis

The Halfway House of the Sea

The sea is a land-bed’s life
spread out over it like the kingdom of heaven
a flowing poem over rigid empty prose
calling to us the uncovered from within,
…..beneath our common hearing
of birdsong, fly and cricket themes, even digital chatter

traffic rumble, the low hum of inhouse motors
muffled rants of memories
The sea is an endless wash;
we need its multiple self-clearings
of old days, old moments spent

or we would never awaken
From a resort on a modest bluff
the sea scene spreads like a mountain range
marking the curve of the planet
out beyond our hearing

in closer waves dance
a chorus of young French women
thrashing their layered petticoats at us
the Can-Can in an old movie
legs flying, high cries above the music

In time or out of it we somehow begin to hear
what the sea offers us; that we be to it
…..a not-so-rare inclusion
It sings a work tune, building a halfway house
for a new we

for when the old we, always failing, falls away
and the refugee camp of the sea falls away too
leaving no place, needing none
other than our inattentive hearing un-revised
the coughing of passengers on a bus

the tramp of a crowd on a stadium walkway
…..into ballgame repetitions
If we couldn’t hear again what we’ve already heard
we couldn’t hear at all, even these
original sea-calls subtly but vitally new
among old chants and verses

The halfway house of the sea ever rebuilds itself
around us, for an us more basic than either seemed
alone together a moment ago understood separate;
now out of the time of each
into a mythic time of wordless surprise

appearing out of discards, scraps and planks
sawed off, mis-hit nails bent
empty paint cans, brushes too stiff to carry and spread
only when nothing is wasted do we begin even poorly
to see at a distance, to hear up close


Don Brandis is a retired healthcare worker pursuing his passion for poetry.  He’s had poems published in Leaping Clear, Free State Review, Neologism Review, The Hamilton Stone Review, and elsewhere.  A book of his poems, Paper Birds: 40 Poems,  is pending publication with Unsolicited Press.

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