In the Wake of Barnegat Bay

clamming

Clamming on the Barnegat Bay

Marsh grass swaying to summer’s breeze music,

Wafting smell of sulfur…cattail decay permeates the air,

Skeleton legged egrets skate over muck and mire,

Silently stalking, without trace or print,

Fisher of frog and killie and eel satiate the craw,

Atypical beauties gliding amongst driftwood and jellyfish.

Gulls chatter wakes the quiet of the rustling reeds,

Circling, cawing in haphazard patterns above the sea,

Groupies to fish laden boats anxious for port,

Unafraid…swooping to touch the hand that feeds,

Scraps of innards, heads, tails treats for the monochrome crew,

Relentless in their acrobatic aerial pursuit.

Sullen skies harvest chilly rains, whipping winds churn the bay to froth,

Whitecaps endlessly roll across turbulent waters,

Crashing to port and starboard in a symphony of wind-swept spray,

Biting hardened faces, skin soaked..raw with each pull of the rake and tong,

Muscle aches, such minute reward, so honorable the sacrifice,

For bushels of clams…the elusive cherry stone.

Brutality of summer’s heat nor winter’s cold deters,

Boats of wood, chipping and weathered, flat-bottom or “v”,

Designs dreamt in the mind of another century,

Purpose built, purpose born, rugged men, bred for the rigors,

Calloused, barnacle laden, weaned from the land, cast to the sea

Baymen one and all, men to their briny cores.

Bay of cedar and Atlantic salt, treacherous inlet throat,

Darkened by sources of origins mixed,

Nectar of life to fish and fowl, baymen and boater, lovers of marine,

Beauty whilst beast when stoked by storm,

Life giving…treacherous for the ignorant and uninitiated,

Wondrous, mysterious…Barnegat Bay.

~~ D. R. DiFrancesco ~~

* I grew up along the Barnegat Bay, in New Jersey and worked as a commercial clammer for a number of years.  This type of work is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly was honest work and taught me the value of persistence.  This is an absolutely beautiful area to live in and now that I live in the desert, I realize how much I love and miss the bay and ocean.

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Dread of Night

Howling winds under amber moon,

Barren oaks crackle dry and brittle,

Skipping leaves rustle, dead and fallen,

As dogs aghast, bay at the dreadful night,

How eerie trembling in fright unfolds.

Shadows long and deep bury the living,

Cast down upon the earth in a tumultuous dance,

Sights and sounds of Hell inspired.

Whilst blackened figures roam unhindered,

Tricking eyes and mind to terror.

Spying what in logic can not be real,

Hence, even this is of no solace,

As synapse take their nightmarish toll,

Painting masterpiece of horror contrived.

With shutters locked taut, to hold back the fear,

Blankets drawn tight up over head,

Eyes pursed hard to block out the light,

We lay in silence to hide from the dead.

~~ D. R. DiFrancesco ~~

Truest of Loves

Catapult my feelings to the sky

Scattered to poles by twisting winds

Revealed my heart so you may lie

Within my arms, true love begins

~

To you my words no justice do

My tongue in knots, I make no sense

Conduct portrays my emotions true

Offered up with no presumed pretense

~

I choose to pose my love in verse

Too shy to speak these heartfelt words

My love exposed, flowery and terse

In these my heart is garishly heard

~

I have no qualms in sharing my soul

It was meant at birth to be given to you

Without your hand I’ll never be whole

Through God and my faith I construe

~

Distress me no more with nary response

This agony more torturous than death

Mutter your reply, I urge you at once

Before drawing in my final breath.

~~ D. R. DiFrancesco ~~

The Road Home

Stove burners blue flame

Dangerous heat

Warming frigid trembling hands

Radiator cold

Rent control all he can afford

Children absent and estranged

He’s invisible in this world

Old friends to the old man gone

Passed before his time

Rotary telephone shows its age

Symbiotically keeping pace

Silent and out-of-date

Thoughts of youth flutter

Flashbacks in his fragmenting mind

Remembrances of companions

Lost loves

And a wife

Still 20 to him,

After a lonely decade adrift

Living because he won’t die

He longs to sleep forever

But it is not God’s will

Not his time

Shuffling to the stove

He warms his trembling hands

To wait for meals-on-wheels

Or the Lord to take him home

 

~~ D. R. DiFrancesco ~~

 

Friends for Life

Lifelong friend,

We speak without speaking,

Share a history we both have lived,

Characters in a story that we both have told.

Our parents cut from a similar mould,

Blue collar, God fearing, salt of the earth

We are cut from that same cloth.

Neighbors as children and again as adults,

More like sisters than our sisters,

Distance only a temporary hindrance,

How peculiar our bond.

What path our futures may hold, I do not know,

What I do know is that you will color mine,

And I yours,

Lifelong friend.

~~ D. R. DiFrancesco ~~

* Written from my wife’s point of view about her best friend who she has know since she was 6 years old.  They grew up together almost 3,000 miles (and 40 years ago) from where we live now and now her best friend and her husband live waking distance from us.  That is a friendship, one which I never had.   I think this is wonderful.

A Ship Gone Adrift

What little I have,

What little hope I hold out,

I hold out for you my brothers and sisters,

As this ponderous ship lumbers on.

Burdened with the heavy load of it’s own pomposity,

It lists port and starboard under it’s shifting cargo,

Tacking to-and-fro to navigate to calmer waters.

Captain and crew befuddled by the turbulent course,

Confused, cries of “Mutiny!” wring out from the deck,

Their cries fall on deaf ears.

On course for the eye of the storm,

The captain, in his pigheadedness refuses to yield,

Refuses to see the oncoming torrent,

Refuses to change course,

If not for him, but the sake of his crew.

Equally obstinate,

The crew abandons ship with nary a word,

Cowardly defecting to save face,

Leaving captain and cargo,

Feral and adrift to meet their fate.

For a ship untended…

Seldom reaches the safety of port

 

~~ D. R. DiFrancesco ~~