Kirby Wright

Winter at Carlsbad Beach, California

The tourists have fled
after an onslaught of wind and fog.
Kelp stretches in tangles,

strangles the sand.
Seagulls huddle
outside a seaside condo.

Behind a window,
a woman sits at her glass table
playing solitaire.

The ocean is missing its surfers—
it is its own sky,
dark gray and heavy.

A boy throws a stone at the water.
To the south, a power plant
sends yellow blooms

through its tower.
I smell burnt diesel and metal.
A jellyfish has been deposited

at the high tide line.
Here is a body of clear rubber
etched with blue and purple veins.

This casualty requires no x-rays;
I cup my left hand
and dig a grave.

A man with flexing pole
pulls a fish from the shallows.
The gold tail flaps onshore

as furious as a puppy’s.
He slides his blade
through a brain drowning in air.

Now there is blood on the sand
and a man bent over a bucket.
I genuflect at the edge of the continent.

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