Folly Beach Hotdogs

Folly Beach hotdogs
---probably the world's best---
except, maybe, those you relished
in your own hometown's playground.

I often wonder
what made them so great.
I guess it was the onions and mustard
---and the sand, a grinding reminder
to ten-year-old gourmets
that with every bite
we were devouring
Folly Beach hotdogs.

Summers later
my interest turned
from hotdogs to cool girls,
the ones who safely stationed themselves
sixty feet from the surf,
hiding behind sunglasses and feigned disinterest.

Charmed, I chased them seasonally,
but a fellow can only have shallow infatuation
with girls who only want to have fun,
and I was looking for something deep---



Folly girls weren't for me.

Youth's gone now.
The youth that surfboarded in this morning
was washed out to sea with the noontide
of imminent middle age.

I still come to the beach,
but I walk farther,
down past the hotdogs and cool girls.
I walk alone along this fragile Edge of America,
seeking a place of solace,
a place where only the ocean
separates a wistful walker from fabled Africa.

I keep walking, seeking a site
not yet found by anyone concerned
more with profit than pristine beauty.
I walk until I come to a lonely spot
to share only with a couple of seagulls,
a crab or two, a few terns.
There I spread an olive drab blanket
and break open my soul
to the soothing balm of softer sunshine
in the late afternoon

Eugene Platt

(From the collection Summer Days with Daughter,
copyright (c) 1999 by Eugene Platt.
This version reflects revisions through 10/27/08.)

Pennies from Heaven

Robbed by emphysema
of outdoor passions,
my frail father hobbied through
two years of retirement,
a new collector
of old coins.

Thus, my gift: the wealth
of thirty-eight cents,
a small tribe
of Indian Head pennies,
tiny tokens of tribute,
remembrance for a final Christmas---
given before he took
the ultimate reward
and left me the fortune
of having been his son

Eugene Platt

New Priorities

My preoccupation
is no longer empires;
I tiptoe in darkness
to witness your blanket's
rise and fall.
bending over the slats of your crib
that remain silent sentries
through the night,
I become reacquainted with a God
I knew in my youth
and say a wordless prayer
of hope for your future,
which is the future of all the world,
while listening
for the sweetest sound I have ever heard:
your breathing

(by Eugene Platt from the collection
"Summer Days with Daughter," © 1999.)

(An excerpt from)

To a New Son

While the coming of children
and passing of years
have not made me pacifist,
I have become much more choosy
about accepting alternatives
to peace.
Mothers and fathers of the world
may never learn
to live without war,
but the coming of each new child
gives us another chance.

I believe in children

(by Eugene Platt from the collection
"Summer Days with Daughter," © 1999.)

Summer Days with Daughter is available at Charleston County Public Library

Love after the Flood

(for my Mary)

Amid the floodlike debris of divorce,
the delirium which follows destruction
of the only world one has known, long I lay
exhausted with sodden spirit, wondering
why the Lord of hosts, allegedly omnipresent,
was nowhere near when I needed Him most.

At last at a rising of the sun,
I recalled His compassion for the crew
of Noah’s ark, who in surviving the Flood
feared another, and considered His colorful
promise to spare their descendants
from such a painful fate ever again.

In a wretched state of weakened faith
and needy flesh, seeking more than reminder
of ancient lore, I asked for a sign
for myself and fell asleep, dreaming then
of a rainbow seeming to arch over
an answer, a form too far away to identify.

Awakening, I abided the actualization
of that sweet dream, watching the sun
routinely rise and set a thousand times
while waiting to see whose face
would come into focus, waiting while
its bearer grew from beauty to beauty.

Today, far away from those floodplains
of past adversity, I disembark from the ark.
My odyssey is over. I have come home
to find the face is yours and you,
like Noah’s returning dove, promising love.
Redeemed, I relish the irony of your being:

Namesake of the Mother of God.

Eugene Platt

Simple Words

Truly, Cupid leaves nothing to chance.
Likely, that crafty cherub was at the dance
where our lives collided on the Folly Beach pier
as we moved to music no one else could hear.
This soft collision of disparate personalites
was charted in the stars before we were born:
You were too shy for words;
I fancied myself a man of letters,
fully in love with language.
(Or, you teased, full of myself.)
Inevitably, I fell in love with you as well,
finding in old words new nuances of meaning.

Coupled in marriage, our agonies
and ecstasies were kernels of poetry.
The bliss of our bed was consummate joy.
We had relished ten years of the good life,
enriched by loving and other literary activity,
before a little lump in your left breast
reminded us of our mortality.
I became intimately familiar with terms
like "lumpectomy," "chemotherapy," "remission."
And we not only survived, we thrived,
embracing "carpe diem" as a way of life,
unwilling to let slip away unlived
whatever time was left.

As a widower I continue to work with words,
trying to convey the otherwise unconveyable.
I know now the meaning of "metastatic,"
though I take no delight in defining it.
In your case it meant a movement of malignancy
from beneath the upturn of nubile breast
to the lobe of a lung on the other side
of the world's kindest heart.

Yes, hell yes, I know well the meaning of
multi-syllabic medical terms like "metastatic,"
but choose to dwell on sweeter single-syllable words,
simple words that soothe the senses,
simple four-letter words like "hope"
and "home" and "kiss" and "hugs,"
good words like "life" and "love" and "wife,"
and a sweet word likely to linger forever
on the tortured tip of my tongue: "Mary"

A Widower's Fifth September

In this scenic part of my native South
near mouths of the region's deepest rivers,
although not every tree is evergreen,
deciduous are few and far between.
The Lowcountry woods are dry due to drought,
the leaves colorless, as drab as my mood.
Still, I come for solace, find food for thought.
Unaligned pines respect my privacy,
expressing silently their empathy.

In this, the fifth September without you
beside me to see these few signs of fall,
I would give all I own and promise more
to the charity of your choice to hold
your hand in mine again and hear your voice.
Frolicking as before, we would wander
in love and sacred lust, but never lost,
going ever deeper into quiet,
greenish shadows miles beyond a true sign
of the beauty of being together:

Sixteen hundred days have come between us.
Surely, soon I will find final closure.
This perennial renewal of grief
will, I pray, be reasonable and brief.
Seasons shall continue to come and go.
So, I paraphrase Ecclesiastes:

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to grieve, and a time when a widower
must let go and say, "Goodbye, Grief."

Eugene Platt