Boardwalk, Venice Beach

by Robert Bové (May 2007)


Versions of these two poems appear in The Shell Line, the third poem cycle in The UFOs of October.


Boardwalk, Venice Beach



She glides among them

            long-legged, on skates

her gleaming auburn hair

            visibly growing

one hand on a breast, the fingers of the other stretching

            nearly to the inside of a thigh

trailed by a huge floating shell

            and airborne school of red snapper


Her nostrils flare from boardwalk potpourri

            of french fries

                        rotting kelp &

                                    coconut sun tan lotion


Animal-alert to each other,

            it’s hard to account for their indifference to her—


the winterskinned on bicycles

a pale youth burning shirtless

a middle-aged self-styled rake in short shorts and Nikes

girls playing tennis in skirts as small as his hand

the old woman carrying seashell-pink parasol

            chaperoning a sweatered old man

                        inching his walker up hot wooden planks


Piled up against the shoreline

            air bubbles burst by the billions

From the surf, a woman half-emerges

            a sea-glazed jewel

                        dark hair into the water at her waist

                                    woven up from the sea

                                                a hank of gleaming kelp



Earlier, at the New York World’s Fair, 1939

Again, Botticelli’s: in 12’ tall photo, flat on the pavement.
Around Venus blow-up sprawl 10 voluptuous bare-
breasted blondes, brunettes & redheads—all too real—
about to be fit with rubber mermaid fins—
Dali’s “Dream of Venus,” the façade,
thanks to Levy’s money, of pavilion-aquarium.


A rubber manufacturer insisted on the fins
but you, señor, pimping the fantasmagoric
wanted the show viewed through peepholes
by “moon-mad” New Yorkers.


And though delicious, your women
are unconscious they too are as precarious
as the “middle men of culture” you condemned
later that summer, safe in Franco’s Spain.



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