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Timothy Steele
Baker Beach at Sunset


July 4, 1976

This is a place the ocean comes to die,
A small beach backed by trashcans and concrete.
Bits of torn paper scrape the sand; the sky
Supports a few gulls. Words seem obsolete

In settings such as these. The salt gusts blow
The scent of marijuana up our way.
No bathers in these tides, and, yes, I know
I've written nothing in three months. Friends say

That there's still gold in modernist motifs—
But I've learned what too much self-scrutiny
Does to the spirit. Secondhand beliefs,
The palpitating soul: how carefully

We shelter and array these. Two jets fade
West of the low sun, and the Golden Gate
Shines with a kind of neo-gothic pride,
A bright memorial of the welfare state.

Seaward, tugboats and freighters lead and bear
The commerce of the Far East and Marin;
But gulls shriek at a distance, as if aware
Of the grim age the tide is bringing in.

© Ohio University Press / Swallow Press

Timothy Steele    14.08.2009

Timothy Steele