My Own Coney Island

NaPoWriMo Day 15, the true midpoint in the month’s writing a poem a day challenge. Today, they want us to take our cue from some music we love. Now, I tried a jazz inspired poem months ago This was the exact wording of today’s challenge, which had me nonplussed for a bit.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem inspired by your favorite kind of music. Try to recreate the sounds and timing of a pop ballad, a jazz improvisation, or a Bach fugue. That could mean incorporating refrains, neologisms and flights of whimsy, or repeating/inverting lines or ideas – whatever your chosen musical form would seem to require! Perhaps a good way to start is to listen to your favorite piece of music and “free-write” for the duration of the piece, and then use what you’ve written as the building blocks for your poem.

I tend to think of my husband as the musical one in our household. He sings and strums. I am more of a hummer girl. Which was a nickname from junior high. I hummed absent mindedly in the school library. Mostly because I forget lyrics. It’s the tune for me that is catching. One artist that I did catch from exposure to my husband’s taste in music is Van Morrison. It took me a while, but his Avalon Sunset album converted me. And today, I have taken the song that would most certainly make the cut for my Desert Island disc. (For those who are unfamiliar with this cultural reference, BBC Radio 4 has had a Sunday morning programme for decades where a celebrity is interviewed and they choose ten pieces of music that would be pressed to take with them when they are stranded on a desert island. They are given the Bible and allowed one luxury to choose as well.)

Van Morrison’s Coney Island would definitely make it on the Desert Island disc. For one thing…there are lots of strings in the instrumental. His song refers to a Coney Island on the Ards Peninsula in Northern Ireland. Sligo also has a Coney Island, rabbits being fairly prolific in these parts. My poem doesn’t end at Coney Island, but the one place I really want to visit after lockdown in over. Because I miss the ocean.


Sunday sunshine and we are bouncing along the back lanes,
not a coney, or badger, or fox in sight in the midday glaring light
as we pass the promenade of mountains over to our right –
the Playbank, Cuilcagh – and the glimmer off Lough MacNean,
hanging a left going towards Sligo, following the line of drumlins
out towards  the Atlantic. And we go on and on, the CD blaring, and
our resting faces are smiles. We’ve packed tea in thermos flasks,
ham sandwiches  to allay hunger stoked by a hearty sea breeze.
And we go on and on, past Manor and turn towards Glencar, stop
for an ice cream by the lough and watch it melt along with the
shimmering  scenery. The flume of waterfall is not going up
at Devil’s Chimney for want of storm and rain. I keep taking snaps,
trying to capture a scarab in honeyed amber.  And then we are nearly there,
crossing the sandy wetland flats and then we are at Streecagh.
You stride on ahead on the sandy miles, while I am paddling ankle deep
in the icy shallows, looking west for out and out across the fathomless
stretch of sea, counting how many shades of blue or green or gray
I can see as the clouds shift, watch seagulls wheel and hear their cry.  
I pick up shell sand scrutinise pebbles for fossils. Turning back,
 I can spot where you are sitting leaning back in the arms of a grassy dune
 and all the while I think wouldn’t it be great if it was like this all the time.

Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved