“John Wayne would not appear on screen without his Levi’s 501® jeans; apocryphally, in order to prepare the jeans for a film shoot, Wayne would submerge them in the ocean for several days to give them the right amount of wear.”

—from Denim: Fashion’s Frontier


The ocean chats at this afternoon, swimming
for you as stupid crabs celebrate a park ranger
kicking a French bulldog for eating turtle eggs.
The ocean runs a big mouth, especially when it’s day
-drunk, covering basically all of Earth’s façade.

Come to the ocean, where beasts drink for free!
Bring wine & portable phone chargers in tote bags!

Jolly, it gargles saltwater like answered prayers.
Try not to look: tattooed breasts are topless,
sails down. It spits beautiful people like kelp,
or plastic, births dippy models on a whim,
watches them swill decadence with manicures.

I see the gold chain around your neck & I like it.
You are not shining. You are the sun.

Lose something to the ocean, like glasses
or a fixed gear. Little straws poke sand castles
from Manhattan, hobbies for the Polaroided lonely.
Wave-babies try their hardest to reach them,
to run it down. Those stupid crabs don’t have hobbies.

I swallowed the salted sword for the hell of it, for kicks.
My exoskeleton pals clapped their pinchers in ecstasy.

The ocean is an asshole. You just wanted to look.
It’s gotten used to getting struck by lightning by now,
yet trembles as it’s slurped dry, advertising a billionaire
crib coddled by its own rabid foams, so rich, so espresso.
Each year it rises to reclaim life’s throne. It works for you,
is laughing with you—if you’d only laugh, too.

Don’t blame me—ask your questions directly to the sky. No one
is powerful enough to stop existing. Stop acting like it.

Departure is a sassy revenge. Snap pictures like legs,
string them with fishing line on landlocked refrigerators,
burn the jetsam shrine in empty concessions,
nap in terrestrial shade under the holy tree envelope
whose leaves scourge driblets of sand everywhere,
even the bottom of your fancy glass glass.

Henry Goldkamp

Henry Goldkamp

Goldkamp lives in Saint Louis / New Orleans / the spirit of gratitude. He likes spreading it around / realizing how damn lucky this is. He has recent work in Mudfish / Hoot / Seems / dryland / Sierra Nevada Review / Straylight / others. His art has been covered by Post-Dispatch / Time / NPR / more. To read up on / about these things, google: henry goldkamp with a fresh drink of your choice.
Henry Goldkamp

Latest posts by Henry Goldkamp (see all)