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When You Came Home
Free verse. Long read.  (Meant to be sung aloud.)

 

"When You Came Home"

 

Endless hours a long, long time ago

Time ceased to pass

The sun and sky seemed your own

Moments of exultation

Instants of terror stark

The ocean spray, the gathering fog

Your hunger intense,

Assuaged by cheeseburgers,

French fries, Cola Cola,

Thick malts gone too soon

Grains of sand in your trunks

Your bathing suit top sometimes, too,

White goo smeared on your lips and nose

There were stolen kisses

In long walks and under the pier

Inside fetid station wagons

In baking woodies, too

Towels flattened on the sand

Slender girls napping in a row

Dreaming while transistor radios played

Were you there to surf,

To tan your skin or to be

One among many?

From sometimes 8 AM

Till dusk you had a home

Where skimboards slid 

Along near the splashing foam

To be a teen

A teen

To be a teen

Have you forgotten?

And when you came home

When you rode home,

Pink skin a-glow

On surface streets

Packed maybe 6 or 8 tight

Sandy feet, damp suit

The vague melancholy 

Of leaving the beach

And when you came home

When you crossed Orangethorpe, Valencia,

Commonwealth, Malvern,

Valencia Mesa, Bastanchury

And beyond

In those days so long ago

When you came home

What did you find?

A $15,000 tract home

Railroad tracks nearby or

Industrial vats of tomato sauce?

And when you came come?

Home with four bedrooms or more

Swimming pools, stables,

Tack rooms, a tennis court

A patio for Old Fashioneds

A grill for steaks?

Or a single bathroom six would share?

An apartment with paper thin walls?

Males working on cars outside?

Smoking cigarettes, laughing,

Cursing, spitting,

Making fun.

And when you came home

Was there a book in the house?

Were there rumors of fights?

Car clubs, steady rings,

Drive in movies to attend?

A day at the beach

For surfing or mostly not

Say!

Have you had skin cancer on your nose?

A ruddy chest and milk white breasts?

You may have had yourself

Channeled, chopped,

Lowered, decked,

Raked, louvered,

Flamed, pen-striped, 

Tijuana-tuck-and-rolled.

Let it pass.

Does a fuzzy dice hang

From your rear view mirror?

Do you sit practically

On the 4 on the floor

Next to your baby?

Cruising tor burgers 2022.

And when you came home

Did you grow up and move

Back to the beach?

With many a stop in between?

Or did your family

Have a beach home sweet home

Back in the old days 

Or the desert or the mountains?

One hundred funerals later

Throw in a wake or two,

A cheery memorial service,

Ashes dropped at sea.

Arthritis, can you digest Delaware Punch?

Heart attack, can you still have onion rings with lunch?

Dreaded diagnosis,

Charlton Heston was Moses!

Your mom was young and pretty!

Your granddaughter’s the spitting image!

Does it skip a generation?

Or did you skip ours?

Diplomas earned, medals won,

Weddings celebrated,

Births and Abraham Maslow’s 

Oceanic Moment!

Little League and soccer?

Did you coach?

You went to the beach

You went so often

Southern California kids

We’ll remember when memory dims

The bare bodies, Sea N’Ski,

The molten craving 

That surpassed understanding!

Have you had your fill,

By the way,

Of the opposite sex

And electric moments?

Do you remember water polo

Players and swimmers

When their trunks were wet?

Who was stacked and who was not?

Rumors of slut-hood,

Of wild hillside parties

Of gritty Brea oil field hill trysts?

Do you get lucky’

At class reunions?

What a thing to say!

Honestly!

No gift so gay, so bright

It’s on some minds to this day.

And when you came home

Fortunes amassed, lost -

Paradise Regained?

Divorces recorded

Many a tear has to fall

We went to the beach together

In one hundred separate cliques

Do you remember the names?

Have you shaken the dust

Of Sunny Hills from your sandals

As one ’67 fair maiden claimed?

Have you moved on,

All the way on,

Live In The Present

Is the past just a goodbye to you?

Forget your Sunny Hills

Locker combination

And who taught you heartache?

Is Fullerton a distant memory?

Up a distant narrow passageway,

Turn left, climb the stairs

Of your recollections?

Your mom, your dad,

Sisters and brothers,

Dog and cat,

Cookie jar, medicine chest,

Spice rack, sewing thimble,

Liquor cabinet, family Bible,

Mom’s scrapbooks, dad’s pipes,

Tricycle collecting dust.

Lost and gone forever?

And when you came home

To Newport Beach, Temecula,

Galveston, Woodland,

Renton, Ben Lomond,

Irvine, or wherever you hang

Your baseball cap

What a life you’ve led!

So much accomplishment!

Good done, people helped,

The world improved by

Your presence.

How unselfish you’ve been!

You deserve a piping hot

Cheeseburger, tasty French fries,

Delaware Punch, Bubble Up,

Squirt, Pepsi or Coke,

Or would you rather have

A thick chocolate malt?

Vanilla, you say?

Butterscotch?

Strawberry?

Life is like Dr. Beauchamp, Credit Dentist,

For those who mattered most.

Credito Facile!

Even when you’ve been turned down elsewhere!

Remember: You Trust Lou

And Lou Trusts You!

And when you came home,

And when you came home,

When you came home from the beach.

Drowsy, sun-burned,

Full of stale excitement

Awaiting a Saturday night

Of baby-sitting

Drag-racing

Harmony Lane

Retail Clerk’s Union Hall

Hillside

McDonalds

Carls

Taking care of Grandpa

Listening to 45s in your room 

Wild parties in Sunny Hills!

Riding around from Brookhurst

To Magnolia

To Spadra and back!

Whatever it may have been!

And when you came home

And when you came home

When you came home, don’t you see?

When you can home.

World Without End,

In the Midst of Life.

When you came home,

 

— Friday, April 29, 2022