Lewis Ellingham


harrowing — giant marbles, her small face just stares,
large marbles, leaning forward, intent, glaring, out of
her mind, from time to time speaking in tongues, a
patron of the busstop in front of the Zuckerberg
General Hospital of San Francisco, there are many
people around, the stop serves three lines, as I board
my bus, find my seat, I glance from the window, she is
fixing me, her eyes like pool balls now, and as the bus
jerks forward, she follows me until the link is broken

a fat quail is my firmest impression, the hospital’s
new art work, I’ve gone from floor to floor
descending, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 — murals and panels and
glass walls and pictures here and there; hospital art
— a uniformed attendant asks me “are you waiting
for …” and I answer “… the art work” and she says
“beautiful” and I say “the quail is fat” and pat my
stomach and she says “healthy” and we smile

there are three plump quail and
one woman fiercely staring, her
eyes like

Black Sand

-for Tom Libby

a bank of surf explodes
the dance of bubbles far out
before a late afternoon
sun, a gull a hint of V
for an instant joining
the chorus subsiding
a roiling whiteness
into shadow

at my feet black sand
churned from
the snowy mountains
two hundred miles
east, magnetic bits
in tiny crystals
glitter ebony

a guitar player
strums music unheard
so far away, a gymnast
prances dancing
martial art, no one else
challenging the surf’s roar

a dead crustacean,
a hole in its shell —
“killed by a gull maybe,”
my companion speculates,
“see its tail?” a quarter circle
tracing on the sand and
other objects moved as
the sea retreats

footprints, deep dug
from a racing, jumping dog
and barefoot people, more
in shoes, the soles pattern,
a polished pebble, an
uprooted stump burned
now and russets
polished in the glowing
late day wetness

the ocean’s gestures
fractals earnest
stroking black sand


Lewis Ellingham: born February 27th, 1933, Fort Wayne, Indiana. By age 21, migrated to San Francisco, after living in Chicago and New York; settled in North Beach. With Kevin Killian, wrote a biography of Jack Spicer, Poet Be Like God [1995]. My The Birds and Other Poems was published in 2009; new writing continues with a series of self-published books. My blog: “The Ellingham Digest”: http://lewellingham.wordpress.com

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