Poetry Collection – by Colin Dodds

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Arriving at the Beach Alone in Autumn

The immediate circumstances of a revelation

are peculiarly crucial


Between schemes at the ragged edges

of miscellaneous majestic mercenary dreams

Old enough to count

the loss of nerve a boon


Toilet burbles silence ululates

in the unlocked room of The Strathmere Motel

a place on the ocean, quiet in summer

cheap in autumn, more or less on the way

from the place that paid him to the place he lived


Napped on the hard bed weighed a quiet night in

But set out in a moon-juggling fog

with Atlantic City lights sinister in the distance

among the humped nests of angry terns


Hoping to provoke

the smothering opaque presence

that had grown so near

to determining him



Out of Orderly Forms

Fog deepens clouds contort

into the sneer of a clown

The beach shatters into orderly forms

The sky has no personal advice


Maybe it’s the afternoon’s World War Two novel

or the bum’s rush of the things he has to think

just to think at all

Maybe the well at the center of history

was tainted by a virgin’s corpse

Maybe commerce does invade every zone

Maybe there’s no arriving anywhere unpolluted


But provoked, the sky of stars

gives way to a sky of snakes

The beach strips bare and barer still

explodes to grasping hands of flame

Iniquities of childhood mature

to monstrosities of adulthood

A sluggish garter snake graduates

to a world-devouring dragon

through whose broadcasts he sifts all night

under an admonition said soft but heard hard


Voices of reason sing his name

They’re there to help

but to listen is to lapse


Obstinate atop a tern’s nest

wellness isn’t why he’s come


He’s there to win words that will withstand

the tides of sleep




State of War

Of course there’s war, a seabird chirrups

at the other lonesome predator in the sands
who also spends someone else’s money

eats someone else’s food

beds someone else’s beloved

on someone else’s land


No one wants to hear his apology
The tern struts and screeches

You may think I am interrupting you.

But if you look at it from my point of view,

you would see that just the opposite is true.


He’d gone to the beach to escape the war

the hierarchy he’s embedded in

the people he exploits and the ones who exploit him

to encounter something else


The sky snarls with the ocean its devouring mouth

bloodied at one corner where casino lights

victimize one another

Shadow scenarios rise and fall all night

all life or death all quite real ultimately

And that night, it’s all ultimately


Phalanxes mobilize below his damp hands

War pursues and subsumes his meditations

The music stops in a world without end

and he can no longer call his uniform a disguise


It’s the beginning of the bad story



The Clenched Flower

The void

to a living creature

is iridescent, amniotic

an inferno of symbols
Zero o’clock ramparts rent records burning

in a surging sea of hands and flowers

the kinks and sins of every wind

incarnate unrestrained
The man on the beach loses track

of whether he’s a human sex trafficker

holy sacrifice murderous salesman fool whose failure matters

or just a confused kid circling the drain crying out

in what small sullied aperture of wilderness

he could afford for a night


Every guiding directive

to speak or not see remember or not

to run to or from the lights to seek or flee human aid

shatters to a flock of flipping coins

and drowns in the ineffectual wish-fulfillment of a riot


Red lights flare green

Language explodes into unknown codes

Nailed to the beach groping for a clue

the sky opens without welcome

to reveal a clenched unblossoming bud

vibrating poised to vomit itself forth


It’s the knob of a door

he dares not reach for

 colinColin Dodds is the author of Another Broken Wizard, WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” His writing has appeared in more than two hundred publications, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology. Poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air) said of Dodds’ work: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” Colin’s book-length poem That Happy Captive was a finalist for the Trio House Press Louise Bogan Award as well as the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award in 2015. And his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter. See more of his work at thecolindodds.com.

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