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How to capture the experience of summer in poetry? What words or images immediately come to mind when you think of a Seacoast summer? Heat, sun, ocean, and seagulls surely make the list, but alone they are trite and don't convey what it actually feels like to stand on one of our beaches at this time of year. In this poem, Mark DeCarteret invites us to step into one experience of summer, to feel the world through our bare feet, hear the gulls' "hoarse benedictions," and truly feel the heat on the skin (and the surprising "smack" when the heat of the sun disappears behind a cloud). There are experiences here that we can identify with - who hasn't left their shoes on the floor of the car and stepped out onto burning asphalt and then sand? - and questions left for us to ponder: "who is ever this available," and what is this century's charge? Read it out loud and you will hear that the poet has given us another experience of summer; the "s" sounds coming forward and receding throughout the lines are reminiscent of the soft shush of waves on a calm sea in August.      
                                                                                 - Lesley Gaudreau


the gulls are all business
with this century's charge

applying their hoarse benedictions
to the parking lot's shins

I take nothing from the car
leaving even my shoes at the pedals

o the calm smack of a cloud's intercession
& yet more guarantees from the sea

I bend down so as not
to stymie the sky-

who is ever this available?
as if the world has been kissed back in place

where we are known only by our skin
and the heat that has taken it up as its own

                 - Mark DeCarteret


"august" copyright 2005 by Mark DeCarteret, first appeared in Free Verse. Mark DeCarteret's work has appeared in numerous reviews including AGNI, Chicago Review, Conduit, Phoebe, and Salt Hill, as well as such anthologies as American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon Press, 2000) and Thus Spake the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader 1988-1998 (Black Sparrow Press, 2000). Recently his poetry has been featured online at Maverick Magazine and Mudlark. His most recent chapbook is The Great Apology, published three years ago by Oyster River Press - for which he also co-edited the anthology Under the Legislature of Stars: 62 New Hampshire Poets.


Please note: Poems submitted to this column should not exceed nineteen lines.

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