Day 13: Serially Found
Writing Prompt: write about finding something


Like so many seashells,
you came rushing onto Kayak Beach, along many waves
washing gently, then roughly. Gently, then roughly.
Alternating and aimless. Aimless and sure. Sure and
roughly remained…into our hands—

two, four, six…
to be exact—
as debris from the bay.

Like so many seashells,
you happened upon the shore of Kayak Beach, as
indiscriminate a destination as any could be, yet you
cannot stay, cannot be let…alone. You see, you are
not native nor mythical, historical nor neutral. You are not
Miwok, mermaid or link posterior to paper uncles,
brothers or sons. Your anthropology is of little use,
here. Even a throwaway coke bottle, glassily disposable
sarcophagus of a bottle, as impossibly likely as that would be,
would have been better than being the wrong sort of accidental,
discovered face down and incidentally. Touched
and turned by our hands—

two, four, six…
to be exact—
as debris from the bay.

Like so many seashells,
the shore at Kayak Beach is another fragment of your
story that is now another fragment of the stories
already here. Like them, you will be detained. You
will be quarantined, examined, and catalogued. You will
be policed, sanitized, and reported. Reported and
deported into hands that are not our hands—

two, four, six…
to be exact—
as debris from the bay.

Like so many seashells,
you came wet and slick to Kayak Beach with ten
fingers and ten toes. You were big, heavy, and male.
At least 6 feet, 2 inches. One hundred eighty-six pounds.
Four decades, plus some. With hair. A head full of
hair, nearly medium length, lustering russet
in the sun with no patch of baldness. Your eyes,
perhaps once cinnamon in shade, are now

You were perfect, though not perfect.
Your eyelashes are short, save for a sharp lash branching
like a laden limb from the left lid. And there are tanless
lines lining the sides of your face, smooth and
goateed, with demure lima bean shaped indentations
on either side of your nose. Once upon a time you may
have been unkindly called four eyes or more cruelly fag, freak,
nerd, geek. Then again, glasses may have been post-pubescently
prescribed along the years to middle age. We can tell you
took care of your teeth. Brushed and flossed regularly. But cannot
tell if you were melliflous or stunted in speech. There are no caps
and no cavities. There is, though, a chip on the front right incisor.
Could you have acquired it playing sports, getting pushed around or
in a fight, or less remarkably from ordinary clumsiness?

There are moles.
Twinned moles on the right side bone jutting from the elbow,
several across your back, one above the knee, on your clavicle, and
on your big toe, the left one. Your toenails, by the way, are craggy
and overgrown, not at all like your square, impeccable nails.

There are scars.
A toyon berry sized one snugged in the bend of the right
knee. And less oddly, another on the side of the upper left arm,
puckered into a small mound. You were immunized. We have
similar puckering in similar places.

There is a birthmark.
In the center of your chest, away from your heart, a
crescent of stars, faintly scattering away beneath the hair
just short of the right aureola. There was, is nothing
else, save that you are circumcised.

You came to us
—at the eleventh hour in the eleventh month—
without music, without claim of who you are, wished, or were set to be.
Rain was in the air and with it, the season’s cold.
You were dressed dark and fitted in medium lycra shirt and shorts.
Shoeless, soxless, muscular, and lean. Unclaimed and unfound. You are
John Doe.

We do not guess what shore you fled to flee.
And will not guess what shore you sought to seek.
Or what siren call called you down, down and
down from the Golden Gate to the scyllian waters
circling our island of 800 acres Angel land
with its own history to bear and its own ghosts to carry.
We leave be. Amongst the three of us,
among us three you are Solomon. Puente. Atlas.
A real name. Not perfect, though less perfunctory.

Like so many seashells,
sprackled along the coast of Kayak Beach, we do not covet
you. Were we not so kelped in our humanity, its salt of
sustenance and shit, we could have seen, yes we might have,
so to speak, seen yours wrangling through wave and anti-wave. We
would like you to be interned into the higher places in our hearts, but that
would be false.

Forgive us our weak regret, our limpid sorrow. We
are not angels. We are human. And selfishly alive.
Your face is a terrible photograph we are trying
to remember lightly so no shadow is left, no trace felt
in our hands having ever encountered—

two, four, six…
to be exact—

of them ever having encountered you
(as debris from the bay) at all.

Day 3: Commit to a Writing Practice

Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Three songs! I’m so bad at remembering song names. The first song that popped into my head when I read today’s prompt was “The Wheels on the Bus go round and round,….all over town…),” which is just about too lame for print.

Well, the wheels on this bus are stalled on “most important,” but since I’ve got to keep moving, I’m going to ignore the “most important” direction and go with songs that have stood the test of time. Basically, they’re songs I’ve really liked since I heard them and I haven’t gotten sick of them.

  • Lift Every Voice and Sing written by James Weldon Johnson
  • The Greatest Love of All sung by Whitney Houston
  • Three Little Birds by Bob Marley

 Lift Every Voice and Sing

James Weldon Johnson

It’s a classic, timeless song with historical significance. The song is a poem written by poet James Weldon Johnson who is one of the celebrated Harlem Renaissance poets. He wrote the poem to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday at the school where he was principal. Booker T. Washington was the school’s honored guest. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson put the words to music shortly after and thus the “Black National Anthem” was born. What I love about this story is that it captures the indomitable spirit of African Americans—the unbreakable hope in the face of adversity that allowed survival of the Middle Passage, slavery, racism and socio-economic genocide. This is the song I would carry when you’re in the pit of hell with no foreseeable way out but to wait it out. This song has been sung in many different ways. Here are a few You Tube links to the different ways it’s been sung:in chorus Howard University Gospel Choir, solo Bebe Winans, upbeat Ray Charles, or instrumental Count Basie.

“Stony the road we trod,
bitter the chast’ning rod,
felt in the day that hope unborn had died;
yet with a steady beat,
have not our weary feet,
come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
we have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
we have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
where the white gleam of our star is cast.”

The Greatest Love of All

Whitney Houston 2

Last June, my daughter graduated from preschool (yes, it seems there’s a graduation for every occasion) and the class song was…drum roll please…Frozen. As much as I roll my eyes, I have to admit that for our eighth grade graduation our class voted on Whitney Houston’s The Greatest Love of All, which was at the time played ad nauseam on the radio. It was a great song. Much later I found out that one of the co-writers, Linda Creed, was battling cancer when she wrote the song. I can’t speak to her intention, but it sounds like it was an anthem for herself. It’s a powerful song. If you’d like to listen to the full song, here’s a You Tube link to The Greatest Love of All  performed by Whitney Houston at the Grammys.

“I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all”

Three Little Birds

Bob Marley 2

It doesn’t take a genius to see a recurring theme: I’m a sucker for songs with a ray of sunshine over a shadow of gloom. The words are nice, but of the three songs, it’s the sound of this song, the reggae that feels like home to me. Here’s the You Tube link. If you like Pharrell’s Happy, you’ll like this song.

“Don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright”
Singin’, “Don’t worry about a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright”

Rise up this mornin’, smile with the risin’ sun
Three little birds perched by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs of melodies pure and true
Sayin’, “This is my message to you”

Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice.

Okay, I’m signing off for now about my favorite songs. My writing practice is to write everyday. There are no time limits, no fancy prompts. Keeping it simple is best for now. In the future I may go in for fancy prompts or creative practices like putting my favorite words in a jar and using one each day as a jumping off point. The kind of exercise is a bit beyond my ability or stamina. So I’m sticking to writing everyday as much or as little as I want.