Outside Oz

February 12, 2017

Lesley Choyce and Pablo Neruda have at least one thing in common: they look to the sea for their poetry. After a morning lost in their lines, I wrote one of my own about a surf I had yesterday. Neruda gave me permission to use the word soul in all sincerity; Choyce showed me the path. I hope you dig it.

Outside Oz

Pink blaze, purple flood

Sunrise with the girls

We window-wondered together

Cotton candy, shreds of cloud


I saw a wave (I always do)

It shot as if ejected

By the headland, hidden

& then there

There to call me in

There to pull me out


I went

Down the frozen driveway

On my bike, my board

Side-saddled and glistening

-9 celcius & not a touch

Of pushy wind


High tide left a narrow path

Raw with frosted rocks

I slipped

Twice, body relaxed

To spread the shock


Around the head

No other humans, no friends

To share waves with

But a strange warmth

I found there

Below the white cliff


I botched the paddle-out

Took a cold set

On the brain, swore a little

Till I saw the light

Through a backlit crest, bottle green

Thin wedge of water

Pane of stained glass


Waiting, waiting

Circling—horizon, L town, radar tower

The crouching hamlet of Cow Bay

A crooked crowd of teeth

& smoking chimneys


My first wave rose

A distant hump, shifting

I saw my spot

Pushed hard to be there

In time to swing around

& feel the heave



Planted, slanting

At the line

The wave generous, gentle

An easygoing wall

Up, down, slicing

& then my mind loosened, lost

In the sea’s electricity


Winter here is mostly rage

But there are calm pockets

Rare jewels, emeralds

To inhabit. I try to heed

The call, to soak the light

To saturate

My surfer’s soul.

PoetryRyan Shaw