The Boardwalk Poem: An Addendum, A Prologue


It's been a little over two months since the hurricane veered many of our lives off their tracks.  In Long Beach one of the most visible and tangible ways that we can see the toll the storm has taken is by the destruction of our beloved Boardwalk.

Those first few days after the storm cleared many of us saw our own personal suffering, the loss of irreplaceable mementos and our ravaged homes in every tear to our historical treasure, a lifeline for our community.   At the memorial held recently as demolition begins on the Boardwalk, I thought it was time I added some new verses to my earlier Boardwalk poem. I've loved seeing everyone sharing their memories of all the fun and sometimes misadventures we've had (I'm looking at you, LBHS alumni). 

This poem though isn't an end but a prologue for the next amazing chapter yet to come as we rebuild the boardwalk and our beautiful city. So here it is - the earlier version which I've obnoxiously posted all over the place is here: The Boardwalk Poem

Turns out I've still got a few unfortunate lofty phrases in me that I can't blame on my youth - apologies again - see you all at the beach soon! 


p.s. the original version posted of this addendum is here.

The Boardwalk: Prologue 


We said goodbye to you without knowing it.
While workers rolled along picking banners instead of cherries
from their lifts we filled every space, sat on every bench set for those who've gone ahead.
News crews swarmed, thick cables left in their wake, as they reported their version
of our story to the folks at home.Leaving would be the wise choice
but we could not go.
And the skies darkened,
and the sea swelled, her loud
waves breaking in one last desperate attempt to tell us what was coming.
We surfed, we drank, unflappable soldiers facing an impossible battle,
languishing in the last peaceful moments.
We were all captains of this ship. 

I ran your length one last time
without admitting its finality.
I traced you from end to end, you, our spine. Once you belonged to Reynolds
alone, now our sprawling backbone connecting everything we held dear.
The rain started. We turned to go.
"So long for now, sweet friend."


Everything went wet.
The sea rose to find her
Romeo, star-crossed
Juliette stealing her way
to meet the bay at Park.
In their furious passion the wind howled
a plague on all our houses.

Everything went dark.
We would soon learn how easy it was to do without light--
less feared than the sparks and sirens breaking up the starless night.
When the heat fled, when the water tormented us to understand
what that Ancient Mariner once felt when his crew cried,
"water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink"
We do not know who killed the albatross but we all bore his weight
in the weeks once the land returned to us, everything imbued
with the salt and sand we called our own.

But we bore the weight together and so we wore it well. 

We weep for the warped photos, the ripped sheet rock, our boardwalk dashed to pieces.
We give back the salt from ourselves as an admission that we are both sea and man.

Reflected in drying tears we do not need to hide from our neighbors
lies what Reynolds built for us with each wooden board
those beautiful elephant tusks brought to our shores.
Safe within collective chants--
"we will rebuild,"
"bruised not broken,"
within every small kindness and tall task shared together lives
that illimitable spirit
so much grander than two-point-two.

Faith and fortitude, sweet friends,
we will see it before us again someday soon,  
but for now remember
Reynolds' dream rests with you and the sand in your shoes.
Taurus January 16, 2013 at 09:07 AM
A beach towel, transistor radio, suntan lotion (or oil), a reflector, cigarettes, sunglasses, a hat..no umbrella's for us-we were teenagers-w didn't know that we could get skin cancer; we didn't know that cigarettes kill, we did know that our city by the sea and our silky sand was the very best of our teen years. We sat with our friends, looked for 'boys', ran into the ocean to cool off and then back on our beach towel. We went home after a long day..we were sunburned, happy and ready to do it again. We now use sunscreen (or bronzer), we've stopped smoking-but our memories of days gone by were the very best a teenager could have. We didn't appreciate walking to the beach-until we were older. Those were the days my friends.
Eric Alfredo January 16, 2013 at 09:36 AM
Hi Roslyn, I am a video journalist with Verizon FiOs1 TV, Long Island. I have been doing a lot of stories about Long Beach, The Boardwalk and what it means to the residents. I would love to do a piece on you and your book. It looks fascinating! Please let me know if you're interested. Thank you, Eric Alfredo Video Journalist Verizon FiOS1, Long Island Office: 347-642-5657 Mobile: 480-277-9153 eric.alfredo@pushpausetv.com
Leonard Bauman January 17, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Roses are red, violets are blue, the Long Beach Boardwalk is gone and so are its displaced residents who are living like welfare Lexus RX350 queens in a FEMA hotel like the Allegria.
Taurus January 18, 2013 at 08:04 AM
That doesn't rhyme Leonard..sorry.
Donna Burke Adams November 25, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Yes Taurus. Those were the good old days. I also grew up in the West End. How about riding the ole school bus painted blue an white. Or taking the LIRR to NYC for the day. We were there in 45min. I have great memories. Ex LBRes.


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