Dennis Maulsby


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Against the moon
rests sharp-cut shadows
of bluffs and scrub trees.

An inbound breeze
unleashes the memory
of gun oil and wet canvas.

The wandering voice
of Judy Garland
creates throaty notes.

A milky tide pulls sand
from beneath my bare feet.

Around me,
spirits cluster,
field strip weapons,
chew gum
and talk in Jazz patois.

More gather,
arriving from all
the compass points.
From the high ground
comes a tinkling piano
version of Lili Marlene.

Reaching critical mass
the spirits burst out
of the surf,
run, crawl and twist
across the beach.

Hundreds fall –
scattered shredded leaves.

The rush breaks
and hesitates
at the foot of the bluffs.
Gathering strength,
clawing, pushing,
lifting each other,
they flood over the top
to vanish in the sunlight
of a new day,
drawing in their wake,
the crashing
triumphant boogie
of a thousand
Big Bands.

Author’s Note: Featured on NPR’s Themes and Variations, May 2004: Published in the “Hawkeye”, June 6, 2004