On the Shore

Denise Dumars

On the Shore

A black wind slows the movement
of the frosted, ink-dark waves
two moons tell tides
in tug-of-war
strange shapes both dead
and living
decorate the distant dunes.

Sere sluggish beast
appears to know
just where it’s best to hunt
its iron-bristled, oily hide
resists the strong shore flow
and claws eclipse
some flying terrors
from eons long ago.

Inside my shell I long for touch,
the ancient wind has howled
that rasping sand, that slurry sea
that I’ll never get to know
just failing air supplies my life
and failing faster, food.

The sluggish beast has turned from shore
brings lantern eyes to see
perhaps it has a knowing of
my crushed calamity
it lumbers like a bear from home
its yellow eyes are keen
moves closer to my viewing port—
ows it has been seen.

Last message:
tell the winter flights
this world is no second home
no grasses grow, no green eclipse—
(the moons are pretty, though)
but in the last analysis
a fatal error made
what sees us like a distant eye
ends on this shore, with me.


Denise Dumars has recently been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, one of several awards she has held nominations for in the science fiction and mainstream poetry world over the last couple of years. Her latest chapbook, Cajuns in Space and Other Speculative and Fantasy Poems, was created especially for Loscon 48, and 2023 will see the publication of another poetry chapbook, Animal Gnosis, from Sybaritic Press. Other new poems of hers are available in The HWA Horror Showcase IX; Red Paper Parasols; the 2022 Southern California Haiku Study Group Anthology, and many other publications. She lives in L.A.’s beautiful South Bay region, but her heart is in New Orleans.

Author’s Backstory: “On the Shore” began, as many of my poems do, with a narrator who feels isolated and lonely. She has landed on a planet that can support life…but not her kind of life. She is unable to leave, and in fact anticipates being eaten by the native fauna as she reports to other ships but cannot reach them physically. I have a fear of the cold, so she does too; her loneliness and physical isolation also ring true for me and may ring true for readers coming out of Covid-19 isolation. My narrator may not be from Earth. I do not believe we will ever find another planet with conditions in which Terran life can survive. But hey, that’s just me.

Editor’s Notes/Image Credit:  Icy mountains by the sea, an alien landscape with two moons [wallpaperflare.com]

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2 Responses to On the Shore

  1. John Baumgartner says:

    Thanks Wendy – keep them coming.

  2. Pingback: Speculative Poetry Roundup – March/April 2023 - Goran Lowie

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