Poem: Where the Noise Ends


Where the Noise Ends


The beach is flat. Empty.
The weather is dull. Grey.
There is little wind. But there are clouds.
Here and there a gull pecks at the sand
and flies away with a cry.
It is cool and damp.

No one else walks the shore.
Just you. And her. A new journey for you both.
Even now, a year into adventure,
the sky is full of horizons
in every direction.

There is no need to rush.
Civilization will swallow the shoreline soon enough
with its skylines and fences,
its noise and neon, false promises and concrete.

No, I prefer the wilderness.
the open space and open sky,
and you. And I.
And horizons as far as the eye can see.


This is where I live.
Not my body mind you.
This bag of old bones is entrenched in the here and now.
It works in the day.
It sleeps in the night.
Baldish and secretly funny, I lead prayers on Sunday
and the next day turn to spreadsheets and science.
I don’t have the sense to know what I can’t do
and frequently fly and frequently fall.
I have the scars to prove it.

This is where I live,
not my emotions, mind you.
They are tied to the here and now,
sometimes a little slow on the uptake,
but always fluid with the tides of the life around me,
happy and sad in equal measure,
a person so ordinary you would never notice me
were it not for my propensity to set words to paper
and send them out like so many paper airplanes
for strangers to fine.

This is where I live.
In a spiritual wilderness.
Me and my God wrestling, Jacob-like in the desert.
sometimes in a deathhold, sometimes in an embrace,
never in sight.

I prefer to keep my battles silent.
No need to desecrate a beautiful world with my blood.
only later, the battle won or loss,
the carcasses removed from the field of battle and poppies planted,
only then do I sing the wilderness song,
a poor man’s Homer, ee cummings, Tennyson.

And it here, where I live, in silent places,
wilderness places, where all else is removed
and I am left with the truthmakers of my life,
my God, my love, myself,
that I find who and where I am.
Where the noise ends
and I begin.

About this poem. 

Don’t get me wrong. I love cities. When I get work that takes me into DC or New York City, I love the energy and geography, the shops and hole in the wall diners you only find in a city.

But my soul is revived in the wilderness, be it beach or mountains.

The picture was taken on Hampton Beach a week ago when I was visiting fellow poet Steven (Skip) Manning.


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