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Reading Ulysses by the Snotgreen Sea



Reading Ulysses by the Snotgreen Sea


I’ve walked over water to the far rail,

Rodanthe Pier, hoping to see a loggerhead

—and I’m standing there next to Russell,

who I’ve known 43 years but only nods

as he yanks up hard on his rod, pelicans

dive bombing into what a good ol’ boy

on the other side, Chris embroidered

on his hoodie, tells me is a school

of menhaden beneath the rolling green water,

casting his line, yanking it hard like Russell,

smirking through a round forlorn face,

saying sharks keep taking his live bait—


when the swells flatten out and the menhaden

disappear in a sudden suspension of voices,

words, movement, a stillness at loggerheads

with the thick book I’ve left behind on the beach,

681 pages fluttering on an abandoned folding

chair, momentous wordsphrasesallusionsillusions

tumbling into one another between the shiny covers

speaking of hypocrisies in the holy church, eating

breakfast, Sinn Fein, daily gossip, Shakespeare,

lusts, corrupt politicians, agonizing births, senseless

death, gravediggers leaning on shovels—


when a gust of wind lifts me over the rail,

and I float off toward the cirrus horizon,

where Joyce (Joyce?) tosses a ring buoy

off the deck of a schooner, its four masts

falling off the edge of earth as I find myself

floating back to shore on gently rising swells

past the pier, past surfers sitting on their boards,

past children playing in the surf until I roll off

onto sand, skin gritty with the spirit of body,

the corpus, the corpse, lunch, sweat, the private

life between the covers, that endless longing,

all of us trudging, trudging, battle after battle,

meal after meal, breath breath, thrust thrust, this

achingly long story of our journey back home,

wave after wave of words crashing into foam.


—SL, Rodanthe, NC, August 2022

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Jeremiah Horrigan
Jeremiah Horrigan
Aug 31, 2022

Such good timing -- I uncovered an old Bloomsday clip I wrote inn 2004 and no, I've never read it the book, though I saw the movie. Then, while perusing The Oxford Book of Death, I came upon an example of his work and probable reason why the book is so ... difficult. I'll send along both toot sweet. In the meantime yes, your poem works for me though I remain more admoring of the book than eager to dive in.

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write4hire
Aug 31, 2022
Replying to

.... and (full disclosure) I remain more admiring of the book than eager to finish it. We need to swap stories over a cuppa sometime soon!

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marilyn.bardo
Aug 26, 2022

The imagery in your third paragraph transported me to an away place (which I could use right now!)

I might now give Ulysses a try again - for the third time.

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write4hire
Aug 26, 2022
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Try a beach. A few years ago I found that the only way I could read Proust was on a stationary bike at the health club. http://talkingwriting.com/reading-proust-gym

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Larry Winters
Larry Winters
Aug 26, 2022

Words crashing into foam, not unlike the alligator's last meal at the pond. Life rolls stumbles, flies sinks, and slides steadily until we see the life ring in front of us and don't reach out and finally finish the book. Go well L

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write4hire
Aug 26, 2022
Replying to

Amazing where that buoy shows up ....

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grunfeld
grunfeld
Aug 26, 2022

Good luck friend. Personally, I never managed Ulyses, and, to tell the truth, gave up. There must be things we give up on, for smarter people to understand.

Mihai

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write4hire
Aug 26, 2022
Replying to

Still reading ... we need to get a cup of coffee this fall!

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