Standing by the Shore: A Short Poem

He stood gazing out at the sinking light
This ragged, tattered man dressed in a fine suit,
holding his alligator shoes in one hand
and his life in the other.

He was a teacher,
and a good one at that;
good enough to survive the endless days of chaos and stagnation;
riddled with obscenities directed at him…and by him.

He had fought through the dread and fear
of a world turned upside down,
and had been one of the few
who had kept their sanity and their steely ability to shed their skin.

On the other hand, he had seen his life become one of
spending too much time with Jack Daniels,
coping and numbing his soul;
rather than watching the grains of the hourglass
measure his time with her.

She was a good teacher too.
They both started off so ready to take on the world;
yet she and been able to rally herself
and steady her souls’ ship…
and that vessel had carried her through.

While his tiny boat had capsized more times that his Algebra students could measure.

She had tried so hard, he knew, to hold him together
but his vessel had entered the sea of fine whiskey,
and had taken on a breach
that would sink him….and her.

She deserved the lightboat, he knew.

And he was to go down with that ship.

As he walked along the beach,
he calculated in his ever-running mind,
how long it would take for one to sink and stay forever quiet
under the waves.

He said to himself….”better keep the shoes…they’ll add to the drag”.

He looked down and saw in his fine suit,
and within, a picture of himself and the student who had tasted his sweet, liquored, breath;
and the papers marked “We regret to inform you” in a rubber stamp
“Yes they still used those”, he thought and smiled a weak grin,
and saw the end had come. In so many ways.

As he walked into the surf,
he reached into the pocket with the photo
and whispered, “It’s alright now young lady”
He knew that the student and her coming baby would be safe
especially from his rotten core…and it was the anvil he would drown by.

As the sea rose around him,
he felt the pressure of the swells
weigh upon his body
and his fine suit
and lost the photo along with his shoes
in its’ torrents and embrace.

Then, as a leaf is tossed from a tree in winter,
he was spat back upon that beach of pain
and left bewildered and sobered
for the first time…in many times that he had crawled through.

He tried again, and again, and once more
kept being pushed from the depths..
It was if the sea was spitting out a poison,
spitting out its’ garbage
and refused to drink him down.

So he stood for a long time
and…as he had been taught by his favorite physician,
“He puzzed and puzzed,
till his puzzler was sore”

Then he looked and saw something he hadn’t before.

He saw the lighthouse.

He ran to it,
as if running to a lover,
and found it’s ancient spiral stair open and engulfing,
rising to the heavens it seemed
with an invitation to “come and see”

He was able to push through the womb
into the fading light
and saw all around him
the beauty of the sea and realized it would never have him.

But, he grinned, “the sands will”…

And he flung himself with that fine suit stretched taught,
like the wings of Icarus,
and fell into the welcome arms
of oblivion and they swallowed him. Like his student’s kiss.

The light faded…dusk clawed it’s way into life,
and the sea, now calmed and accepting, carried him away.

He managed two words with a fading smile,
“Class Dismissed”

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