Beach Boy Poem, John Grey

Judith Nelson, Benday IV, 1973, 4X4


Slapped on the face
ten thousand times
and for what?
I didn’t know that
three times seven
is one woman
strolling on the beach
in one piece swim suit
and flip-flops.
And the cannon
on the old cliff fort
are pointed right at me.
Is it my fault
that hormones
equal salt spray
equal soft sand
and whatever leaves
a mark in them?
I was shot by a jelly fish
bumming in the shallow water.
A shark bone stabbed me in the heart.
Only a hundred yards from here,
back where my car is parked,
I’m a fully realized human being.
No bikinis there.
No one rubbing lotion
on bare brown skin.
You’d love me far from shore.
You’d take my hand in marriage
for the next fifty years.
But here, I’m stoned by eyes
head deep in paperback.
I’m throttled by
tan-breasted indifference.
Worse than that,
my skin’s burning red
like it always does.
And all the sun has to say is
it serves you right,
town boy.

John Grey

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