By Jason Youngclaus

“Ancient exiles, tell me about your seas

Blue sister Venus, stir the glittering wave.”

                                     —Arthur Rimbaud


It was the weekend I passed my first kidney stone,

and given the context,

the bite of late July sand under bare feet was

easily distracted amid the balancing cool  

Of borderless breeze billowing through,

rendering my protracted gaze inward.

My sore neck slouched sideways

As I drifted off on a distant thought cloud

confused and captivated by lines

from a thick Rimbaud volume that

I’d bought for beach reading

somewhere along the eastern trek across Route 6.

But by now the brilliant, pubescent bard’s anthology had

drizzled off my lap, having left

virtually no impression at all

upon the fearless grains of sand which guard the Atlantic.  


And so now I thought

with that season in hell behind me,

I’ll walk straight out

up to my neck in the cold,

refreshing water of Marconi Beach —

and think about how small we are

In the face of it all.

All too gradually the body warmed

as I watched a child run excitedly

smiling as he ran from the goliath waves back to shore

clueless as starlight beaming back to its source

(I consider myself no less ignorant, for the record.)

As the ‘ol bones continued warming

I shook the ocean’s expansive hand

and spun around in a three sixty as the waves surged

making my chest feel empty with flight

that moment of weightlessness

a feeling with seemingly

more utility for the soul than most.

Soon enough the fire of imagination

opened a vista through which

transcendence melts all conscious thought:

Like two comets colliding in another galaxy.

Still, the trail of fire that weaved my thoughts

together was a kind of confused sadness

mixed with misplaced wonder:

The bewilderment of a fish out of water,

Man out of land.

I thought—what if the whole known multiverse,

Andromeda and all,

is in truth contained within a single atom?


This felt comforting and now—

for the first time

I could see it all from above:

me in that emergency room on Broadway

where Brooklyn and Queens bleed together

not far from Greenwood cemetery

(which I’d walked through on occasion)

Screaming at nurses, myself, patients, the gods

drowning in that pain eleven level fever

shivering at the immensity of it.

But that too would pass—

Much like this thought, to the

bottom of my subconscious

immobile on that fertile seafloor.

But we’re all still here and the sentences for writers

rise in waves of creativity.

Inevitably there are quiet moments

but those spaces, like the gaps in a Jazz solo

are where it’s really at.

And when you’ve been strapped to a hospital bed

with an IV drip in your arm

and morphine in your veins

a simple moment of peace and quiet

is bliss in motion;

It rings through the late summer air

And the whole wild ocean trembles in its presence.

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