Day 41 8/5/13: Poems for Shark Week: Beach Walk by Henri Cole

I found a baby shark on the beach.

Seagulls had eaten his eyes.  His throat was bleeding.

Lying on shell and sand, he looked smaller than he was.

The ocean had scraped his insides clean.

When I poked his stomach, darkness rose up in him,

like black water.  Later, I saw a boy,

aroused and elated, beckoning from a dune.

Like me, he was alone.  Something tumbled between us—

not quite emotion.  I could see the pink

interior flesh of his eyes.  “I got lost.  Where am I?”

he asked, like a debt owed to death.

I was pressing my face to its spear-hafts.

We fall, we fell, we are falling.  Nothing mitigates it.

The dark embryo bares its teeth and we move on.

Day 40: 8/4/2013: Shark Angels in Santa Monica

After spending the afternoon at a popular seaside tourist destination, I have one, single burning question:

How can shirtless men wear backpacks? Don’t the straps pinch? What about sweat? I’m no fashion maven, but that look is just…WOW…not..good….

Anyway, I had misgivings go to an aquarium. It seems somewhat hypocritical to protest the circus and then support so-called “aqua-prisons,” but Julie Andersen of Shark Angels was giving a talk at the Santa Monica Aquarium and so I paid my five bucks.  The little shallow tank of leopard  and swell sharks that allows kids to touch them, sort of bummed me out, although one of the leopards actually lifted (her?) head out of the water when I approached and I made eye contact with her.

DIGRESSION ABOUT THE AWKWARD DAWNING OF SEXUAL KNOWLEDGE: As a child, of course, the New England Aquarium was mecca to me. I loved the circular tank with the snuggle-toothed sand sharks. I remember once buying a postcard of a sea otter in the gift shop of the NEA in 1976. Otters can stand on their hind legs, and this guy clearly had an erection, captured in the lurid sort of messy color of the old 60s/70s postcard. “He has a hard on!” shrieked my sister’s friend Denise. It was the first time I ever heard the term.

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