Reflections at Pismo Beach and Beyond

Reflections at Pismo Beach and Beyond

A Poem by kentuck14




Rode out of SLO by 9:00 AM

down US Highway 101 to Pismo Beach,

where I buy Pepto-Bismo from a

gal with a bright California smile---

outdoing the coastline weather that

continues to be damp and cool---

mist heavy against our skin.

A sign on the Jalaperos Café door reads,

No shirt, No shoes, No problem!”

On a chilly day like this I think: big problem!


We wander out the boardwalk across

the beach and over the gray water slapping

against pilings as if their existence alone

had insulted Poseidon, the god of the sea.

We watch surfers in wetsuits wait for the

ocean to send in a wave big enough to ride.

One young man appears skillful, captivating

as he glides into shore like a returning hero.

Nineteen years later we will bring

our granddaughter to this place

and watch another generation of surfers

paddle in the cold water---waiting for

a few brief moments atop the rolling crest

that wind and gravity bring to land’s margin.

A pelican will set down near me

on the pier and look me in the eye

as if he knew me from another time.


Later, after passing through Grover Beach,

Oceano, Arroyo Grande, and Guadalupe---

towns planted among the great truck farms

along the highway---we have milkshakes

                                outside Los Alamos.

The place is called Charlie’s, and Charlie is


Hotter here than at Pismo, we sit in the cool

       of some trees.

I wonder what might come of this day

when everyone & everything seems subdued.

Isn’t happiness the supposed right and

privilege of the American traveler?

© 2019 kentuck14

Author's Note

Continuing in "An American Journey West."

My Review

Would you like to review this Poem?
Login | Register


The bit about the pelican looking you in the eye was my favorite part of this, Tom. Birds do have a way of seeming full of a secret knowledge--and that curiosity that makes me sometimes feel watched in the same way that we might watch them.

I agree with RE that this travelogue could become a book of its own. I have particularly enjoyed the shifts between scenery and the inner responses to the travel experiences. It is never just one thing, but the full sensory experience, which I enjoy.

Also enjoyed the split screen kind of scene between the two groups of surfers. The joy of experiencing the same thing with both the children and then the granddaughter. That must have been a very meaningful thing second time around and brought back a lot of memories and emotions.

The different atmospheres of the various beach towns you've shared are a highlight, as well. Glad to read this installment.

Posted 3 Years Ago


3 Years Ago

thanks for the encouraging review . . . glad you enjoyed.
i felt a little chill, and got rather hungry reading this detailed piece...
as usual you words put me in the location of the poem...

Posted 3 Years Ago


3 Years Ago

Sorry about he chill and hunger! Thanks for the encouraging words.
T., I continue to enjoy reading about your “journey west.” This could be a book or collection of short stories. You’re an extraordinary storyteller and the poems make your stories even more special.

I see not only what you’ve written here, but I feel the air and taste the milkshake. I also admire how you paint not only scenes we’d photograph or video, but the moments we don’t often think about (like buying “Pepto-Bismo”) during one of countless stops for gas, snacks and or maybe things to settle our stomachs after too much authentic Mexican food.

Your ending is a rhetorical question for the “American traveler.” Of course, happiness is not only a right and privilege, it’s an entitlement (maybe even when we’re not traveling).

I look forward to the next stop, T. Happy and safe travels!

Posted 3 Years Ago


3 Years Ago

Appreciate your praise of this series . . . and your comments. Yes . . . could be a chap.. read more

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


3 Reviews
Added on December 18, 2019
Last Updated on December 18, 2019



Lexington, KY

Started reading and writing poetry while in the Army many years ago. I picked up a book of poems by Leonard Cohen in a bookshop on Monterrey CA's Fisherman's Wharf and went on from there. I've had a n.. more..

Chapbook Chapbook

A Story by kentuck14