The Seashell


La tempête a béni mes éveils maritimes. – Rimbaud

The scalloped curve of the empty seashell
Is barren and barely beauty reaching as far
As it can before all is flushed from heart and soul –
O, the covetous rush! And the cavernous lust

Becomes a mere apology for the senses,
Disengaged, amused, parsed out, abused,
Passed on, withdrawn… The whorling spires yield
A frank anatomy of bone, a fluid flesh

Itself shedding finer, more erotic robes
Once keel’s draft is drawn. Anonymity preserves
The graveyard of bowed mastheads and nude figureheads.
The shabby rag-bagged baggage of pornography

Adorns the wavering sea with weird images.
A curse of doldrums and stale maps promise nothing else.
The compass needle begins its spin, its long drawn
Curvature reminiscent of earth and sea and…

Hybrids and homunculi…Succubi and sarcophagi…
Monsters and maelstroms… Man is born threadbare,
Awash upon a beach of strange allegories,
Marooned, nearly naked, but unable to resist

The temptation to dream of footprints in the sand,
Conscious of his mind roaring in a conch’s crook.


  1. I feel very dirty. Or should I say sandy?

    • I hate sand. Like bad dialogue in a George Lucas production, it gets everywhere.

      • What very few people know is that Darth Vader translates to “Chafed Howler” in Hutt.

      • In case you missed it:

        Genius reviews, if you can stand the vulgar humor.

        • Yes!
          Their “half in the bag” reviews are quite good as well. They tend to say “f**k” a lot but they aren’t degenerates.

          • At least they don’t say m**********r. Too many asterisks.

            • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

              Still waiting for my m***********g pizza roll.

              • It’s just so dense. There’s just so much going on. It’s just so dense.

                • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                  ‘Many people in 1997-1999 wanted Star Wars: Episode I — to revisit a world and characters they loved; to see George Lucas’ imagination take flight, unencumbered by technology or studio interference. It seems to me there was a will to Star Wars everywhere. Even cinephiles thought their hopes could be satisfied by the prequels. They would delight in a fantasy of noble warriors and chrome rocket-ships. Their pleasure in the original trilogy would be enhanced by new revelations, leavened by the tragic downfall of Anakin and the Republic. They hung on the words of George Lucas as if he were an oracle, and of Rick McCallum as if he were his prophet. I knew people who subscribed to the fan magazine. Were there none in Arkansas?’

                  ‘God forgive me’, said Angelico, ‘I was one of them.’

                  • All this from a poem….Hm.

                    If I write and post a screenplay for Part VII will you discuss “The Seashell”?

                    ha ha!


                    • The what now?

                    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                      Fine, I’ll ask:

                      Is the eponymous integument one of the seashells she sells by the seashore?

                    • Now she can’t give them away.

                    • JOB,

                      Your poem is breathtaking. Truly.

                      In case you are looking for a new subject!


                    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                      Falcon soars through night,
                      Hidden beauty blurs the stars:
                      Not a piece of junk.

                    • There once was a Falcon, Millennium
                      And a Solo who held its proscenium
                      But despite his last name
                      There were two in his game
                      A wookie had he for compinium

                    • Should be “compenium.” Oh well. Onward.

                      The Falcon, a smuggler’s vessel
                      Could manage the run named for Kessel
                      In 12 parsecs flat
                      So just ponder that
                      When with time and space you would wrestle.

                    • The Falcon is faster than spitfire
                      But its hyperdrive often goes haywire
                      So you’ll need a droid
                      If you hope to avoid
                      Sudden death at the hands of the Empire

                    • A ship that was once owned by Lando
                      Who never could quite understand-o
                      How he lost it to Han
                      (That scoundrelly man)
                      Things never went just how he planned-o

                    • Whenever the Force is a factor
                      You have to adjust your reactor
                      So when some old loon
                      Says “That is no moon.”
                      Look out for the beam that is tractor

                    • Jonathan Potter says

                      Seas hell
                      Seas hore

                    • Sees well
                      Sees more

                    • Now I can only imagine the results of Matthew or Angelico going to work on the Whit Stillman Star Wars thing that happened on the Twitters earlier this year.

                    • “It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”
                      “You’re obviously talking about a lot more than detachable collars.”

                    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                      ‘The Sith were too great, and too much fun, to be gone forever. They’ve got to have their revenge someday. I just hope it will be in our own lifetimes.’

                    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                      ‘So what I told you about Rick Von Sloneker is true… from a certain point of view.’

                    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                      ‘That Obi-Wan Kenobi died, I’ll grant you, but whether or not he ceased to exist cannot be definitively said.’

                    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                      ‘They’re calling us nerf-herders. That’s meant to hurt!’

                    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                      ‘You’re afraid I’ll defeat you and make you look bad.’

                      ‘No, I’m afraid you’ll lunge at me; fall into a lava flow; become a limbless, hairless mass of pasty scar tissue; and make yourself look bad.’

                    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                      ‘Admit it, sometimes you think I’m all right.’

                      ‘Occasionally, maybe… when you’re not acting like a “playboy”- or “operator”- type.’

                    • “Your sad devotion to that strange Glenn Miller-based religion has not helped you conjure up…”
                      Bah I’m no good at this. I’ll leave it to the pros.

                  • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                    ‘In the standard, cliche Jedi practice, the Force is approached from the “light” side. In Sith practice — which I think you’ll find very fulfilling — the Force is approached from the… other side.’

                    • Matthew Lickona says

                      “You’re completely impossible and out of control, with some sort of drug problem and a fixation on what you consider Rick Von Sloneker’s wickedness. You’re a snob, a sexist, totally obnoxious, and scruffy-looking. And lately, you’ve gotten just weird. Why should we believe anything you say?”

                      “Who’s scruffy-looking?”

                    • Matthew Lickona says

                      “Our generation’s probably the worst since the Protestant Reformation. It’s barbaric, but a barbarism even worse than the old-fashioned, straightforward kind. Now barbarism is cloaked with all sorts of self-righteousness and moral superiority.”

                      “I find your lack of faith…disturbing.”

                    • “What Star Wars movies have you seen?”

                      “None. I don’t see movies. I prefer visiting the IMDB. That way you get both the movie makers’ ideas as well as the critics’ thinking. With movies I can never forget that none of it really happened, that it’s all just made up by the director.”

                    • Matthew Lickona says

                      “Have you ever heard of ‘pulling a train’? The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.”

                    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                      ‘The yub-nub is no more ridiculous than life itself!’

                    • “Is our language so impoverished that we have to use acronyms of French phrases to make ourselves understood?”

                      “I spake!”

                      “The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.”

                    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                      ‘I don’t kiss just anyone anymore. I have to be sure they’re not my brother.’

                    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

                      ‘This is where the cool Trade Federation girls come.’

                    • Matthew Lickona says

                      “I’ve always planned to be a failure anyway, that’s why I plan to marry an extremely wealthy woman.”

                      “If money is all that you love, then that’s what you’ll receive.”

        • I never thought I would ever see anyone on this blog say, “If you can stand the vulgar humor.”


      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says
  2. … for whom was built
    This special shell?

  3. We are strangers in a strange land “awash upon a beach of strange allegories.” I’m still poking at the detritus on the beach of life with my walking stick; can’t make heads nor tails. All evaporates upon definition. But my family is beautiful and God is good.


    Great poem.

  4. I’ll leave the meeting now like Costanza after one joke.

  5. The last night of our beach trip I decided I needed some space and would go for a quick walk at sunset before returning to help pack up the car.

    We could walk to the beach from our rental house, but we usually drove up the road a bit to the boardwalk by the soccer complex. Or we could turn left instead of right and go down to the picnic grounds, which also had a boardwalk. I thought that meant it was about a 15-minute walk along the shoreline to from one boardwalk to the other, because I did not look at the map. I am ashamed to say that I adhere to gender stereotypes when it comes to spatial relations.

    Well, anyway, it became clear after about 20 minutes of beach-walkery that I had no idea how far it was from the picnic area boardwalk to the other one, and the beach was completely deserted. You could see the sand snaking along towards the shoreline like the opening credits of a Black Stallion type movie. And of course I thought, “what on earth do I do if I encounter a hostile stranger down here?” The sun had almost gone down, I’d been walking for over an hour, and nobody cared about my text messages. I was trying to play it cool like I wasn’t trying to make out the silhouette of the water tower up in the dunes but really, I couldn’t figure out where I was.

    Anyway, it was not an existential crisis, or even a crisis, but it did strike me that I’ve probably watched too many police procedurals that all I could really think about was “what if there’s a murderous drifter lurking in the dunes?”

    This is probably not related to your poem but I feel like I should stretch myself and leave a proper comment after being away.

    • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

      We care about your text messages, Expat!

      Q:What if there’s a murderous drifter lurking in the dunes?

      A: Try flinging beached jellyfish or Portuguese men-o’-war (or, if you or the drifter are vegan, stinging seaweed). Aim for the eyes and exposed mucous membranes.

    • Existential crisis on the beach? There’s a song for that.

    • I don’t know about the beach, but there IS something nasty in the woodshed.

    • I always feel like this when I’m hiking, Expat! I fully expect there to be a murderous drifter lurking in the trees. As if murderous drifters just love to hike.

      Walking down city streets, on the other hand, all I expect are flash mobs.

      • I guess I better not tell Expat that her beach was featured in Murderous Drifter magazine’s “10 most secluded beaches” issue. Really, why stir up worries?

    • The Duffer says

      I tend to fear Rapey Rednecks more than Murderous Drifters, but I have most of my existential crises in cornfields rather than on the beach.

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