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Twilight at Point Fermin

David W. Parsley

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David W. Parsley

Twilight at Point Fermin

The family picnic breaks the way most do
deciding what to bring or gather and drop
in waste bins, things skipping away too fast to stop
or recover, plaid tablecloth clutched like an heirloom

flapping as though to launch for open sea.
The bi-black sheltie pulls leash taut
toward the ledge-side path where seagulls stalk
eyeing refuse.  Our granddaughter asks to stay

a while, her mother's silence implying she agrees.
Brown pelicans swing around the barbican
Stick lighthouse ruddied gold, wavering line
demarked by shifts in their unbalanced V.
All of us know the career choice essay waits
alongside unpaid bills, the wash not dried,
porch lounge of cats that must be brought inside.
The sunset plays a filtered glow through concrete

fence grate along the clifftop like the last
flare of fireplace embers backlighting calves
and tee-shirts, groups of hobbyists knelt to solve
the tricky sets on consoles, poised to cast

remote-control gliders to surf the air.
The planes dip on release then stabilize,
climb improbably when steered beyond the signs
that ward the precipice, then swing in pairs

and solos wider looping voyages
before returning for retrieval and
the next set of runs.  Passing pelicans
maintain the set of their appendages

unperturbed, necks furling upstretched bills harpooned
in formation toward oblivious schools of mullet.
The sea absorbs the sun abruptly.  Summits
dim like a switched off lava lamp, assume

silhouette stillness.  A final flock begins
to pass then veers to darkness bearing crags
beyond the surf line where they settle hag
feet to their gripping place.  It’s said they end

their lives patrolling ledges, starved beside
thrashed wave caps, made blind through repeated dives
for prey that split the sea’s breast open eyed.
I picture the stir of alerted clutches nearby

their lunge to arriving cocks and hens, chick-peck
frenzy wielding indiscriminate stabs
that take in wind, plume, pouch, with pre-chewed crab
and fish.  Gull cries scatter up the rocks

to us like refugees from Acheron.
The lighthouse woke without our noticing
its irregular handprint feeling along
the fogbank cast off vanishing buoys and seawall.

My wife suggests we all get up and moving.
The gliders gleam above dim walkways, wing lights
green, blue, vermillion plunging through a night
breeze fretting palm fronds like cups of trembling.


© 2020 David W. Parsley

Originally published 9 November 2020, Tiny Seed Literary Journal.
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Very evocative David. I enjoy a 'lighthouse' write, have recently read Woolf's To The Lighthouse, and your poem is just as captivating. The poem translates that need to 'cling', the rewards of not hurrying time, though the liquidity of change is always there defining the preciousness of moments.



Our granddaughter asks to stay
a while, her mother's silence implying she agrees.

Such a family communication grounds the poem, but also reflects the binding of mother/daughter relationships as well as that of N. There is a loving understanding here.


My wife suggests we all get up and moving.

I like how you returned to that moment in the conclusion. There is a sensitivity with 'suggests', not a command, but a recognition of the 'loss'.  As you say such times too often 'skip' away with the necessary anchors of work and domestic chores, but at least there is a poem to relive the 'escape'...though nature shows that finality will always colour the narrative...blind through repeated dives. Burying clocks can only be a gesture😀

thank you for sharing


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David W. Parsley

Hi Phil, I like the way you respond to the poem very much.  Your diction has a nice way of participating in the scene and movement, invoking 'liquidity' and 'anchors' in your expositions.  Nice observation about those "buried clocks".  Indeed!

 - David

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  • 3 weeks later...

David, this is terrific writing. With regard to form, I very much like the pace which is set by your enjambments in seemingly all the right places, for example after L8, L16, and L44. There are other good ones, too, but those are my favorites.

The poem itself delivers a Sunday afternoon/evening holiday-weekend-during-summer mood. Though I can recall relaxing times like this from younger years -- weekend afternoons spent in Newport, RI -- I'm also reminded of a Sunday afternoon restlessness; while it's possible to forget during the excitement of the day, by late afternoon the escape is often counterbalanced by "reality": the approach of the oncoming work/school week. 

I love your attractive, professional presentation of this poem. It looks great on the "page." Thank you for that, too.


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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What captivated me is the slow revelation of the details. I love lighthouses. Whenever I had the opportunity I take pictures with it. The details makes me relive the moment with the narrator and his family. The opening was inviting. It sets the scene and presents the characters. Then, I loved the way you introduce each other element in the scene. It's like standing behind an artist completing his visual art work.

"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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David W. Parsley

Tony, as always your insights key precisely into the poem's essence, the emotional journey and its context.  At PMO I can always be sure to find not only an audience that is literate and acute, but emotional accompaniment.  I like the way you can feel the undertow of the everyday strengthening as the poem progresses, yet with the family intimacy and wonder of the experience intact.  But the acuity is there, too, resonating with the enjambment.  Very validating.

Oh, and thanks too for the comment on the poem's appearance.  A lot of my older poems suffered a few years ago with unintended side effects of an upgrade to the system (as I seem to recall.)  Your comment reminded me that I still need to fix up some of them, plus do something for the title.  I went in today and upgraded "As One From the Snowfields."  My changes do not seem to be reflected in the Editor's Choice version yet, don't know if that happens automatically or not.

Thank You,
 - David

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David W. Parsley

Hi Joel, I love your experience of the poem as a painting in the act of being created, with details filling in as the reader "watches."  In accepting the poem, the editors of Tiny Seed Literary Journal commented that the "... poem is rich and complex in meaning and imagery."  Your observation pleasingly enlivens that characterization.

I also appreciate your comment about the opening as being "inviting."  One of the most difficult things in writing a poem is leading off with something that compels the reader to come in and experience.  Delighted it worked so well for you.

Thank You,
 - David

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  • 1 month later...

I swear that there is an entire poem contained in "the wash not dried".

Form meets feeling meets function. Nice job, dude.

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David W. Parsley

Thanks for that concise note of appreciation, Marti.  I am particularly pleased that my PMO friends picked up on the currents of everyday life, the sense of the transitory and mutable, tugging at the alternately serene and disturbing moments the poem attempts to "clutch"; the Temporary intersecting with the sea's "eternal note of sadness."  Your very specific comment gives me a piquant heart-prick of your own narrative over the last few years.  Hope things are looking up for you, my friend.

METAPHORIC SPOILER:  On a personal note, I would like to mention that my granddaughter, Lily, has "made for open sea" this academic year, attending Seattle Pacific University on a scholarship to study Art History.  With a Significant Other in the picture for this "wider voyage", Lily is the barely-acknowledged star of the undercurrent narrative in the poem.


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Stunning work. I'm always amazed at your control, the ability to paint a landscape, an awesome work. Many Thanks.


thegateless.org Come on over and check out my poetry substack y'all;-) Or if your bored, head to the Zazzle store: https://www.zazzle.com/store/gateless. If you buy anything I lose a bet, so consider that before you violate the digital rules.



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