Twilight at Point Fermin

Peaceful pebble beach with rocky arch


The family picnic breaks the way most do

deciding what to bring or gather and drop

in waste bins, things skipping away too fast to stop

or recover, plaid tablecloth clutched like an heirloom


flapping as though to launch for open sea.

The bi-black sheltie pulls leash taut

toward the ledge-side path where seagulls stalk

eyeing refuse.  Our granddaughter asks to stay


a while, her mother’s silence implying to agree.

Brown pelicans swing around the barbican

Stick lighthouse ruddied gold, wavering line

demarked by shifts in their unbalanced V.


All of us know the career choice essay waits

alongside unpaid bills, the wash not dried,

porch lounge of cats that must be brought inside.

The sunset plays a filtered glow through concrete


fence grate along the clifftop like the last

flare of fireplace embers backlighting calves

and tee-shirts, groups of hobbyists knelt to solve

the tricky sets on consoles, poised to cast


remote-control gliders to surf the air.

The planes dip on release then stabilize,

climb improbably when steered beyond the signs

that ward the precipice, then swing in pairs


and solos wider looping voyages

before returning for retrieval and

the next set of runs.  Passing pelicans

maintain the set of their appendages


unperturbed, necks furling upstretched bills harpooned

in formation toward oblivious schools of mullet.

The sea absorbs the sun abruptly.  Summits

dim like a switched off lava lamp, assume


silhouette stillness.  A final flock begins

to pass then veers to darkness bearing crags

beyond the surf line where they settle hag

feet to their gripping place.  It’s said they end


their lives patrolling ledges, starved beside

thrashed wave caps, made blind through repeated dives

for prey that split the sea’s breast open eyed.

I picture the stir of alerted clutches nearby


their lunge to arriving cocks and hens, chick-peck

frenzy wielding indiscriminate stabs

that take in wind, plume, pouch, with pre-chewed crab

and fish.  Gull cries scatter up the rocks


to us like refugees from Acheron.

The lighthouse woke without our noticing

its irregular handprint feeling along

the fogbank cast off vanishing buoys and seawall.


My wife suggests we all get up and moving.

The gliders gleam above dim walkways, wing lights

green, blue, vermillion plunging through a night

breeze fretting palm fronds like cups of trembling.



Poem by David W. Parsley

David W. Parsley grew up in a household where literature was prized as an “incalculable luxury” meant to be shared. Among his fondest memories are evenings where his father would read aloud to the family from collections of stories and poems. Those early years were split between Ohio and Utah. Mr. Parsley now spends most of his time working in Southern California on interplanetary spacecraft at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has found a way to keep the reading and composition of poetry an important part of his life over the years. His work has garnered prizes from The Academy of American Poets and Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, and has appeared in Poetry Panorama, Autumn Sky Poetry, Rattle, and Prize Poems of The National Federation of State Poetry Societies.