Runcible Spoon

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By the Sea


Choices, if we had them, ended here

by the rusting pier and the litter-blown prom.


This failing by the sea was our days

spent wasting unremarkably.


These charmless streets, peeling B&B facades,

shuffling folk, shabby park and worn shops


selling whatever garish wares of happiness

we must have sought here, once. And then forgot.


Like the distant looks on the statues’ faces,

locked to promises a past can never break.


That’s why I recognise so much of what we tried,

and find it neither sad nor comically awful here,


where the sea yawns most tides in, and gulls eye

lonely figures wandering the ways regret has left them,


past the shingle’s ancient lament and the chilly breeze

that stunts the palm trees along the front.


Find instead, in this mirror-by-the-sea,

the familiar understanding of all our adequacies


that, like these, have spread their bucket dreams

before indifferent waves. Here, the real is unarguable.


Washed up along the water’s gradual line, its exactness

lies among the tar-stained polystyrene and plastic bottle caps.


Here, the gestures that we made at night – reaching

for each other – fade and snap, like these bright signs


that found the patient winter shadowing  

those ice cream parlours and sun-drawn crowds.


Here, we face the vision that laps and sighs.

That on the tin-bright indiscretion of its features


paints the history of hearts and streets, and holds

them up, grinning, to the judgement of the skies.