top of page

[Poetry] Five Poems by Trina Gaynon

Brown Pelicans

Huntington Beach Wetlands

They hover outside the sanctuary,

Between sand and sea—

Prayers when flying or floating,

Moving in waves, a hymn when fishing

By full moon’s light. Each leaves its place

In formation to dive for glittering scales

That catch its attention. It scoops

All of the school it can to fill

Its pouch, bows its head to drain away

Sea water, tosses back its head

To swallow the sacrament. They share

The shoreline, sometimes wrapped in fog,

In silence. To give voice would give away

Their presence while they hunt.

On rocky islands not too far from shore,

They breed in colonies. They speak only

In congregations—

Grunt and cackle,

Gurgle and chortle,

While they waddle

Uncertainly over rocks and sands.

Flaneur at the Beach

Sand yields to the weight of my feet.

Dry it swallows them.

Wet it caresses. Under cool breezes

I crave its radiance captured

From the sun. Under noon day sun

I seek surfaces cooled by waves.

Sand travels with me. Rocks worn

Through millennia by wave and water,

Each of them playing its own song,

Each with its own chorus,

Neither willing to be bothered with words.

Even sea foam is not silent.

Shells travel with me, rattling in a shoe,

Each of them no longer sheltering life,

Some still whole, others worn in waves

Or broken on rocks, each chosen for

Its shape, color or feel, even the broken



The drive to Stinson Beach is a long one,

a single road winds its way over the ridge—

through redwoods, along mountain curves.

Today there’s no stopping at Muir Woods.

I pass the sharp turnoff down to Slide Ranch.

In the distance it offers fields where rains

reach a resting place. Farmers know the value

of bottom lands. I’m not in search of produce.

I’m in search of sand dunes and waves,

the silence of memory— a little too distant,

a little too foggy, empty of weekend crowds.

I let clouds move between me and the sun.

My harvest: a few shells that no longer shelter

life, a scattering of pine cones from trees

along the periphery of my downcast vision.

I wonder if I’ll ever be wise enough to leave

them to the ministries of tides and fire.

Opposing Forces

This was our ambition: to be small and clear and free.

Alas, the summer’s energy wanes quickly,

A moment and it is gone. . . .

–“Soonest Mended,” John Ashbery

our ambition was to run along the beach

while flying a layer of plastic stretched across a frame

god only knows where the kite came from

my memory flashes on the trunk of his car and a package

perhaps a gift meant for his nieces and nephews

and thus in middle-age I failed to learn how to fly

crashing into someone’s sandy picnic

my rushed apology then another attempt to discover

an updraft as easily as the seagulls did

lift was missing from my tenuous definition of fun

it needed that component of total aerodynamic force acting

on a foil perpendicular to the wind that opposes

         the pull of gravity to make me real

                       sun was not enough

                                     wind was not enough

                                                      ocean foam tickling my toes was not enough

His Tutor         

For Danny

Instead of hitting the books,

they hit the beach. He clambers

over wave-washed boulders.

She follows. The gap he jumps

across, she tries and slips.

Trina Gaynon's poems recently appeared in Poetry East, Presence, New Verse News, Tomahawk Creek Review,  and Clepsydra. More can be found in Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, other anthologies, numerous journals, and a chapbook An Alphabet of Romance from Finishing Line. She received an MFA in Creative Writing at University of San Francisco. A past volunteer for literacy programs in local libraries and WriteGirl in Los Angeles, she currently leads a group of poetry readers at the Senior Studies Institute in Portland. Her book Quince, Rose, Grace of God is forthcoming from Fernwood Press.


bottom of page