Shells (a poem)

On the breezy beach I met her, long ago
Waves in every letter of the name she sent me,
And in the sheets she lent me, which smelt of some essential oil –
A flower I didn’t know back then …
Embellishing girls’ beauty; a mystery to men.

She said that being afraid would never stop me
In the sacred duty; she drew me from my coil –
I thought of going back before she’d drop me;
We left our bones behind, all white on shifting sand
And worked the deepening caves all summer time for pearls
Behind our eyes our mind was blind
To sapphire sea and golden strand, to words and wit …
To all but what our nature craves,
Sublimation sprung from grit.

When we returned to where we’d started, on the beach
It seemed the waves of springing tide had been, and each
Of our skeletons no longer could be seen.

But all around were perfect little shells – vessels of no purpose, save
To decorate a narrow grave.



Filed under Poems

31 responses to “Shells (a poem)

  1. claire2

    A lovely poem, Brendano. Beautiful imagery as well.

  2. Thanks very much, Claire. Another one I did for a ‘Poets Cornered’ challenge, I think … can’t remember what the required words were.

  3. claire2

    very good! Keep em coming; I enjoyed this.

  4. I love it.
    Have you set it to music?

  5. jaimeatdnmyt

    Very nice, Brendan. Do you have a collection of these? I hope you’re sending them out for publication, even though that’s such a daunting and tiresome task.

  6. Hello Isobel and Jaime.

    Thanks, Isobel. No, although funnily enough I’ve been trying to write songs for the past couple of weeks.

    Thanks, Jaime. I have 20 or 25 poems of various lengths and styles. I sent some to an Irish poetry publisher 7 or 8 years ago and got no reply; I sent some to a writing website about a year ago (ditto).

  7. jaimeatdnmyt

    Yes, publishing is a lot of work. The averages on publishing in the US and it’s likely similar elsewhere is one acceptance for every 12 submissions. My experience is about that, a bit better but mostly because I carefully target where I send submissions. My friends who are better known as writers agree.

  8. Thanks, Jaime. I’m not serious enough about my poems to make a big effort at the moment, though I may be in the future … at the moment I’m serious about fiction, and finding a home for a couple of novels (one adult, one for children/teenagers). I’ve made some progress with the former; haven’t really cranked into action with the latter yet. Distracted by work. 🙂

  9. jaimeatdnmyt

    Well, poetry won’t put butter on your bread, won’t even buy the loaf of bread really. Heaven only knows why I practice it. I ask myself this question a lot.

  10. Well, money isn’t everything, Jaime. 🙂

    A lot of people feel the need for some form of artistic expression, and it enriches their lives.

  11. Rainer the cabbie

    Nice. Thank you. 🙂

    In regards to poetry and how it won’t put butter on your bread; neither does watching a sunset, creating a beautiful painting or playing a great piece of music.
    I know its a hard ask from the punter, but all you poets, fire away for the sake of beauty, as that makes a better world for all of us to live in.

  12. jaimeatdnmyt

    Thanks, Rainer, you’re the best.

  13. Thanks, Rainer.

    Good to see you, as always. 🙂

  14. Rainer the cabbie

    Here you go mate, you left TUG in. Either that or Cymbers had a few crook drinks, but I doubt it, as Cymbeline drunk is definitely a better act than TUG sober will ever be.

  15. Rainer the cabbie

    •Trite is a spider genus of the Salticidae family (jumping spiders). Most of the 18 described species occur in Australia and New Zealand, with several spread over islands of Oceania, one species even reaching Rapa.

    All those compliments make me jump for joy TUG.
    Go to bed!
    Or I’ll give you a serve!

  16. Hello, Cymbeline and Rainer. Thanks for your comments on my poems, Cymbeline. I hadn’t thought of it like that before … the eternal instant. I think you’re right about this one and the past tense, although I still quite like it. I probably posted it as a possible crowd-pleaser (not that much of a crowd visits).

    I think you’re being harsh on Louise & co., and certainly on Jaime, but I understand the thrust of your comments on creative writing groups etc. I started to go to a creative writing class in 1984 or so, but soon quit … and not just because of the long night cycle in the Dublin winter. My attitude to writing is probably on the ‘elitist’ side … if you have talent, you won’t need classes/groups. But some people enjoy them and feel that their writing improves, so that’s fine.

  17. Thanks also for the kind words in general, Cymbeline. Nice to see a bit of sparring between Rainer and yourself … a little of the old-style MyT energy. 🙂

    On another matter, I had a meeting with someone I know who lives quite near me the other day. We intend to set up a book publishing company … between us we have all the necessary skills and experience.

    I always said your slices of life (Caribbean and other) would make a good book … perhaps one of these days I’ll make you an offer. 🙂

  18. As for TUG, Rainer … he takes the time to comment quite a lot on this blog …. I put his comments in the ‘trash’ file.

    There used to be a lot of heavy-duty hate mail, till I pointed out to him that people are gaoled for that sort of thing, and I know his name. Now he restricts himself to more lightweight negative comments.

    A born loser. 🙂

  19. Rainer the cabbie

    OK, I thought that this was someone impersonating Cybeline, as I couldn’t understand her negative response to all the other creative talents on your blog.
    Cymbers, I think you owe some people an apology as they try hard to get the music going where dead silence was displayed.
    Not me, BTW, I know you are spot on, my dear.

  20. Rainer, you know that Cymbeline calls it as she sees it. If anyone is offended, they shouldn’t be, in my opinion.

    Cymbeline told me before that I am too diplomatic, and she is probably right. She is undiplomatic, and I don’t have a problem with that. Of course I don’t have a problem with anything you say either, as you’re a good person, like Cymbeline. 🙂

  21. Thanks for that, Cymbeline. There’s a great deal of truth in what you say.

    I do think it’s a shame that you never saved copies of your blogs … there were lots of really good ones. I remember the one about the dance, for example, and the one about your encounter with a young boy. Very beautiful and stylish, and full of intelligent perception and love of life.

  22. Mme C. a joy as always.

    But more like Cerebos than Cerberus sometimes, in my opinion.

    Not important. The good thing is that your comments will remain here unless Brendano chooses to delete them.

    He is, of course, right and you are, of course, wrong about your not being a writer (my opinion again). Your story about the little girl and the dance was the best piece of writing I ever read on MyT by a mile, in all seriousness.

    Slightly less seriously, I’m convinced that the online novel of which you only wrote the first chapter would have walked away with the Sandy McCall-Smith prize. That shower scene was masterly.

    Hi, Brendano. On my holidays and catching up. Sorry for being triteish but nice poem.

  23. Thanks, John … always good to see you. I’ve been following and enjoying your Venetian adventures (damn, I’ve just admitted looking at Bearsy’s blog again). Sounds like you’re having a great time.

  24. madeoforléans

    Hi John another banished from bearsy here. I lived and worked in Venice for 6 months, i walked across Place San Marco to work everyday. Brings back happy memories. Dined regularly at the restaurant next to the Opera. Is Harry’s bar still there? is the view from the restaurant at the Danielli still as good as ever? They did a delicious suppa verdi.

    • Hi, MoO

      That’ll be the Ristorante Antico Martini, then, if you are talking about the one that’s right beside La Fenice. I was at said La Fenice this very day. Glanced at the menu of the Martini. 20 euros for a mixed salad as a contorni!

      Happy to be spending serious money here- mostly worth it. That is, however, definitely OTT, in my opinion.

      Harry’s Bar is still there as is the other Cipriani outlet on Torcello which we did have a drink in on Monday.

      All I can tell you is that the view of the restaurant at the Danielli is as good as ever.

      Lucky man to have worked in Venice. The last but one time we were here, we were only passing through on the way to Marco Polo after a holiday in Desenzano. Stayed in Padua for the last night and caught one of the commuter buses into Piazzale Roma. How I envied all those people who got off the bus and jumped onto the vaporetto down the Canal Grande on their way to their daily grind.

  25. madeoforléans

    Well I have lived in both and Antwerp and Venice but not eaten young hops in either. Both delightful places in very different ways. Trade has always brought culture and variety, excitement also.

  26. madeoforléans

    John when I was working there, the employees got like 3 hours for lunch so they could take the vaporetto home, eat luch and come back again.The restaurant always had large tuna fish as you entered. I have good memories of Desenzano too.Enjoy it Venice is special.

  27. Jaimeatdnmyt

    I’m not sure why it is should be obligatory to be involved in the back biting lunacy that was characteristic of MyT. Or why joining in the battle to prove things to those who are unable to consider other viewpoints is somehow better than not joining in. That is not about refusing to engage with reality.

    Do you really think that the combat on MyT will somehow improve the world? Stop the flow of oil in the Gulf? End the war in Middle East? Ease poverty and famine in the world? You are more hopelessly deluded than I could ever have imagined, Cymbeline. I would guess that the people attempting to write on MyT and its spin-off sites are as decent as you are, as concerned, as involved in life.

    It is, Brendan, possible to be intelligent, insightful and still be mean-spirited.

  28. Hi Jaime. I understand that Cymbeline evokes this kind of reaction at times, as she is unusually forthright and can be quite abrasive. I would never regard her as mean-spirited, though.

    In any case, I don’t think it’s any harm to have a certain level of friction. It’s all part of the passing parade.

  29. Jaimeatdnmyt

    Good. That is, however, how I see it.

  30. Jaimeatdnmyt

    I think that proves my point.

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