Boardwalk by Bob Rixon
© 1997 by Robert Rixon
ISBN #1-877968-16-1

An earlier version of  "Boardwalk" was published in 1984 by Nada Press (Grandville, MI) as "The Strand."

Several of these poems appeared in Big Scream, Napalm Health Spa,  & Save Tillie

The author wishes to thank David Cope for his friendship  & words,
& David Roskos of Iniquity Press, for the 1997 printing. 

"Wooden Grandmothers" is affectionately dedicated  to Edie Eustice.

In memory of joel oppenheimer,  

& to honor my  grandmother, "Nana,"  in heaven.

Even though she's scary,
remember Virgin Mary,
Our Lady Much Abused
      loves us when she's used.  



"Take a sample of sand from the surface to a depth of about three or four inches.  Knead the sand in the pail for two or three minutes by hand, then pour most of the water into a small glass.  Examine it there with a strong hand lens.  You will see without trouble some of the amazingly active interstitial fauna and flora.  For some of the smallest forms, you will need a stereo or dissecting microscope."

Donald Zinn, The Handbook for Beach Strollers

Park the car as close as possible & walk,
the night is here, opposites attract,
the seers & the seen are dancing
beneath a neon halo, insinuations
have ripened into promises:
fun, amusements, prizes,

bust three
one win our choice
insane clocks
spending themselves on fast time
decelerating toward
individual clicks
of a single hand
one moment
one two three four
hal jim
nan sue

a bell rings

sue s-u-e sue
we have another winner here people
fewer numbers, best odds
on the boardwalk

the silver slides into a box
hidden beneath a shelf
Lucky Leo owns it now

        Friday night fireworks over the beach,

        a brass band, be careful
        the field does not care if it is corny

        Cartoon pinup girls invite me to ride
        the nimble circuits of archaic pinball
        on Whirlaway, Gallant Fox, Citation

                She is searching for a souvenir:

DaVinci's priceless painting is superbly reproduced 
on a striking electric timepiece. Glows in 3-D realism.
Ornate antique clock face has look of burnished gold. 
Picture frame case of rich pecan finish veneer provides 
a perfect "Fulfillment of Time" ambiance 
to your bedroom or patio

            your eyes like      clouds of smoke
            above a steam table
            when sausage is frying

            your stomach      like a greasetrap
            waiting to be filled with fresh
            banana frozen custard

            fragments of paradise in all

Girls snap their gum 
as they pretend to talk
on the pay phone
outside the public men's room

It's possible, possible
Why can't it be possible?

Their flesh is as firm
as the fish in unseen
offshore schools, turning
together, while predators
lurk at the crowd's edge

walking / shoes on a randomly tuned xylophone

a clashing & shrieking
jukebox buried deep
inside a wall

I was too young then
you're too young now

WOODEN GRANDMOTHERS dispensing wisdom
            from a slot:
                  "This diamond comes to tell the tale
                    That for you good luck will never fail"

but this mannequin grandma
hardly moves her head
or her hands, her eyes are broken -
they won't blink anymore,
her breasts jiggle,
her fortune cards are dusty.

Maybe you'd rather ask Morgana?
Decadent vestige of triple goddess
now a 50 cent TV visage
with disembodied voice, she's the hype
you've heard all your life,
she won't slip you a souvenir,
she doesn't know you.

You can trust a wooden grandmother
even when her bulb has burned out,
her small gift is always a truth:

                "O speed on my little dove
                  Carry this message to the one I love"

shot hits clock.....cuckoo comes out & cuckoos
shot hits dives
shot hits cowboy at bar.....cowboy drinks shot
shot hits parrot on roost.....parrot squawks
shot hits piano player.....piano player plays piano

A row of mechanical claws
grabbing portions of treasure,
each as much as a hand holds

  call things by their names
  & make them precious

      Inventory of Treasure: green soldier, hot dog charms, 
rubber glow-in-the-dark skeleton, miniature basketball, 
three inch guitar with painted strings, folding magnifier,
silver kazoo  shaped like French horn, speak-no-evil monkey, 
fingertip with red nail, beer mug with white foam, 
naked pink baby, baseball glove toothpick, blue bootie,
right foot with pink toenails, red fish with wide open mouth.
This is White Lightning, Robot
Start chalking or start walking `
Goddamn my last metropolis annihilated,
I've been nuked
on a screaming orange screen,
it says THE END.

She's won another triumphant replay
proclaimed with deafening pure wave fanfares,
the entire arcade knows she won
& I lost.


I will never attain the Heaven of the Fragrant Buddha.
Virtuous Methodist children are rewarded
      with springtime strawberry festivals
      & autumnal All Souls apple bobbing.

I want apricots dipped in honey,
Carob-covered pretzels (symbols of twisted desire),
a Brazil nut at the core of consciousness.

I want my last breath coated with caramel,
rolled in crushed pecans, dark & light chocolate,
matter & antimatter with three types of cherries.
The gods would never leave us with a simple peanut.


Under the boardwalk in the humorous light,
on a bed of sandy candy striped with light,
cool skins scraping like broken glass,
hot tongues, four lungs, pale white ass.

A scratch for a beat, a shadow for a sun,
no sand in the sandwich, just fun fun fun,
a slow song played upon loving parts,
under the boardwalk we are burying hearts.

canned laughter / a band organ

Fools & heroes become myth
where history crosses the beach.
A hideous fluorescent face
at the entrance to a pier,
Hieronymous Bosch goes to sea,
an image the middle class recognizes
as wholesome entertainment.

Tilt-a-whirl, a language of invention
still danced as an old-fashioned waltz
at Catholic school carnivals.

A carousel carries animal deities
rescued from an auction house,
restored to their place on the mandala.

A Ferris wheel tipped on side
becomes THE ROTOR.
Torquemada would savor
its use of centrifugal force
to induce nausea at precisely
the right time and turn,
the kairos of an idiot kid
puking with deadly aim,
cultural diversity takes wing!

Einstein's gross out champion
chosen from a power source of rumor
greater than a Mount Olympus laundromat.

You will be part of this & much more
As you visit Mount Saint Helens
Take a flight on a seven forty seven
Ride on the world's largest fantastic roller coaster
Sound & screen surrounding you you're part of the action<
Let's take a trip into the jungle
The Amazon jungle
& visit those world famous waterfalls
You like roller coasters?
Well we got one for you on the inside
The world's largest & fastest roller coaster
One hundred & eighty degree three dimensional
Be a part of the action
In the cockpit of a seven forty seven
Kids are free mom room for carriages inside
& you'll even be chased by the Georgia State Police
Get in line now

walking / live music through an open door

My baby duh za hanky panky.
My baby duh za hanky panky.
What is the hanky panky?
My baby duh za hanky panky.

What is the name of this dump?
What was its name when I stood here
four feet tall & heard Fats Domino
singing Blueberry Hill?

I eased through the cave's entrance,
peeked around the giant Cyclops,
glimpsed the Smiling Fat Man
wearing a pink high roll shirt,
a diamond on his right hand pinkie
flashing out triplets. 

That's when I understood why
I'm walking, yes indeed, why
I'm talking, you and me, why
I'm hoping


your sunburn is the color
of a smoldering pine ember
excited by the breeze,
it feels the same heat

I would love to touch
your vulnerable white armpits
& the soft bottoms of your breasts
not reddened by the sun
two different fires are burning

Jan & Dean's DEAD MAN'S CURVE   Album
 Side One:
  1.  Dead Man's  Curve
  2.  Three Window Coupe
  3.  Bucket "T"
  4.  Rockin' Little Roadster
  5.  "B" Gas Rickshaw
  6.  Mighty GTO



A beginning, the first dream
          crossed off a long list of dreams,
A chrome-wheeled, hemi-powered metal flake rickshaw
          holding the asphalt at Dead Man's Curve,

The new girl in school bent over in the front seat,
          her red gash mouth rockin' his roadster,
A spider's web baited with a six pack of Corona beer
          strung across a third floor motel balcony,
O dreams of perfectly safe artificial flavoring!

No more two fried eggs on a hard roll at six a.m.
          in a dirty luncheonette that smells of stogies,
No more two week vacation spent buying lottery tickets,
No more counting loose change on a wet formica bar,
          hoping that the bartender is buying the next one.

Congratulations, you're born, baby, like they say, to run.

foam dissolving on a fish skeleton

 white surf rising out of music
  now the final prizes are rewarded

  midnight spoken in one language
  spray scattering visible light

  boys sniffing like horny dogs
  girls with hair like black straw
  rotating on velcro pelvises
  dancing on pointed sandals

Play misty now, play tenderly,
play now or never
before he's too tired
or drunk to get it up
like he got up that funky strut
down the length of the boardwalk

He knows it isn't easy,
packed ten layers deep by the bar
with no chance to cast his line
through the noise

Soon, it's too late,
that sense of when the night
no longer carries a tune,
when the women point two fingers
at his evil eye:

    LOSER (they flee him
                          with laminated flames between their legs)
    LOSER (he vomits pork roll in the urinal)


                      (Motels & rooming houses
                       inhale night's effluvia
                          Standing to get & to give
                          Kneeling to give & to get
                              We like it, we like it good
                              We watch & we listen)

Summer is ending

Fights cracking open
on the streets behind the boardwalk,
police reinforcements
gathering as brutal blue trios

Berserk teenagers struggling
against forcible restraints,
handcuffed, wrestled into cages,
driven through side streets in the false dawn,
a disappearing act

Changing it's changing please stop changing

A girl is crying
Her boy was arrested
She can't find his car keys
She can't drive
She's trapped on an island
There's only the bridge
One way out or else
The long way back home

Maybe next summer she's a genius
or a poet or a bride
but now she's just some girl
It's ending it's ending
Why won't it just end?

A beer bottle dropped from a motel window
smashing on the sidewalk


moon tonight / tomorrow a magnified sun

bleached wood & dried herring bone
when a hard edge separates
all things from their shadows
O golden coins, O galleons
Spain is over this horizon
Just knock off three cups
Shoot out the stars
Make the frog jump in a lily pad
Toss the hoop on the bottle
Bust three balloons
Squirt the clown with the water gun
Throw the quarter on the plate
Touch any red spot & you win
By order of the town council
the boardwalk is swept clean each night
Listen, this is a nature poem!
as the bay fills in & becomes marsh
the ocean pushes the barrier beach back
through acres of salt grass & muck
until there is no island or marsh
& where they were is water



"I keep thinking, it comes to this: 
  culture displacing the state."

  Charles Olson