i breathe the salted air

Ode to the sea

Not a single walk out one hundred
yards or more
could boast about being free
from a shore,
or a hook or a net;
without any effort of being made to
remove bodies
of mackerel or squid to its
final resting place.

A lone fisherman carries in his hands
the lifeless body
of a fine fish, and making the most
distressing appeal
to a shore man for aid to enable
him to pursue a
wooden coffin to bury it in.

My heart aches and a drowsy numbness
pains my sense
as though of seawater I had drunk, or
emptied some dull boat
to the drains in some melodious plot
of tidal green,
and fishermen numberless drowning
in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of waves that have
been lingering a long age
in the deep-delved sea, or for a
breaker full of brine,
its blushing warmth with beaded bubbles
winking at the brim,
and salted mouth that I might drink and
leave this world unseen.

As I wade far away, dissolve, and
quite forgot,
no longer among the dunes I have
never known,
my weariness and last grey hairs-
my body grows pale
and spectre-thin, and dies;
where but to think is full of sorrow
and leaden-weight despaired.

Away! away! As I walk into the sea,
charioted by fish
and crab, by wings of gulls; haply
the king moon
sits on its throne, clustered around
by starry skies,
but here there is no light.

I cannot see my feet in the clay
of tides, nor feel
the softness of night; I am embalmed
in darkness and its
pastoral eglantine. Fast fading, I am
covered up in waves,
in their murmurous haunt of death.

#1Ode to the sea


Sunlight and reflections in the seaside mud,
thrilling children wired for a summer;
they dance along the changing tide.

The wind howls, the sea yelps,
children’s voices measured out in time;
rung like a bell of the unhurried.

The children weave, the children wind,
they unravel the morning, the past;
time stops, and time is never ending.

Sundown, sunup, the children never leave,
their images reflecting in a watery mirror;
it glows more intense with their moving spirits.

The sun, a bloom more sudden than a moon,
budding along the hedges of dunes;
a morning arises with its voluptuary sweetness.

The children came by day, like husks of shells
washing along the beach and into tidal pools;
they speak a language, but not of the living.

Dead water, dead sand, like dust in the air,
dark gulls with flickering tongues; dead scales
on fish, rattling like tin in cups of brine.

The moment sank into the asphalt of the horizon,
the sea now a waning stranger. The children
ghosted, stone white faces; they kick the empty pails.

They left their bodies on an empty shoreline,
without enchantment, their laughter ceased to amuse;
they are no more than exasperated spirits.

Their smiles cracking like disfigured streets;
now paved over where there was once a beach.
Faded, blowing, no longer resembling a life.


216 comments on “i breathe the salted air

  1. John A Reyes says:

    Magnificent! These brought me back to some good memories.

  2. Cassa Bassa says:

    Love love love “ode to the sea”.

  3. What soul touching words. As a Newfoundlander who has breathed the salted air of the ocean my life long, these words take on another layer of meaning for me. Please speak to us of this Moon King who sits in darkness and hide not his identify in esoteric thought.

  4. Beck says:

    These I sit with and read again and again…

  5. Amit Kumar says:

    Meaningful and also feeling in words [Both way ]….

  6. Yleniaely says:

    Absolutely fascinating and magnificent poem!!! I love it!!!

  7. inspirechief says:

    Beautifully written poems. I can taste the salty air.

  8. Aushi says:

    Incredible work, words can be felt👏👏

  9. Lia says:

    Nostalgia, sorrow, joy at the tip of it before the fall… and beautiful beautiful phrases woven throughout all.

    Favourite lines from the first:

    “O, for a draught of waves that have
    been lingering a long age
    in the deep-delved sea, or for a
    breaker full of brine,
    its blushing warmth with beaded bubbles
    winking at the brim,
    and salted mouth that I might drink and
    leave this world unseen.”

    and from the second:

    “The sun, a bloom more sudden than a moon,
    budding along the hedges of dunes…”

    👏👏👏 The waves are flowing golden here, Lance; thanks for sharing them with us. 🌤 🌊

  10. Jane Tawel says:

    Incredible imagery. Wow — mesmerizing and exquisite — truly exquisite poetry.

  11. weedjee says:

    I’ve read this post and breathing… alive or live it up! I’m remembering a song by Mark Knopfler “sky and water” when I read an ode to seas seven or many more…

  12. Excellent words of the salted sea water and sailing in the rough weather and your poems are always so captivating, Lance. The poem on Reflections too was awesome.

  13. Era says:

    Beautiful 👌

  14. You true love the sea and it definitely has a strong affinity with you as it brings out so much past history and life. It is sad how the fishermen come and go. They drown at sea and nobody has a care or interest it is just another to bury. Heartbreaking for those who live this life as they risk life and limb so that we might have fish. The sea is a harsh yet comforting grave for many.

    Then onto the children of yesteryear their memories and spirit linger their on the shoreline. The games, treasures, secret languages are all stamped in to the environment and all too sadly modern life takes over and asphalt cover the wondrous playground and imagination of those days gone by. The sea and the beach no more, not so beautiful and imagination has got lost somewhere.

    Blessings to you Lance.

  15. You are surely the Poet of the Sea, Lance. You give the very salt spray a voice. As it happens, I recently watched the Spencer Tracy film “Captains Courageous” again. It is one of my favorites, honoring the courage and dedication of men who work the sea.

    Your poem “Reflections” put me in mind of the Irish dunes, where the bones of those who died during the Great Hunger (1845-1849) can still be found.

    Love and blessings,


    • Hello, Anna. My deepest and most gracious appreciation. Spencer Tracy was definitely one of the finest actors of all time. And, what a wonderful movie.
      Yes, the Great Potato famine. An horrific time in Irish history.
      Blessings, dear friend.

  16. Silent Hour says:

    An alternative vision of where we come from and where we return. Both incredible.

  17. What a beautiful sea poem, Lance, with words so beautifully woven.

  18. I very much agree with many here who call you “The Poet of the sea” Your affinity, your obvious time spent by these shores; you now can write about it with your eyes closed and your memories wide open as you live and have lived all the subtle layers, of birth and death..in so many forms, in so many ways..I will combine the two poems because they are from the same family of the hypnotic, and dangerous, ocean tides.
    Death by a suicide, contoured for the expansive deep that calls out to take the last long walk into the sea..drinking the:
    “…breaker full of brine,
    its blushing warmth with beaded bubbles
    winking at the brim,
    and salted mouth that I might drink and
    leave this world unseen.”
    I taste the salt, the waves that envelop me…You are such a Master of putting us in every scene, Lance! We are not disinterested observers, No you make each of us a protagonist being showered by waves, feet slipping us ahead deeper and deeper..being swallowed up from where we all came.

    This image of the ghost children on the beach is personally very haunting to me. I grew up in a small, very remote beach town *population 80 In Costa Rica..No cars, only horses and the sandy shore, the night waves of illuminating light and the turtles coming out to lay their eggs. I was one of those care-free children of the sand and sea..and now..it is long gone..”Progress” has eaten everything but my memories. This second one touched me deeply and I feel the kindred spirit of nostalgia of times that have slipped into the past, only returning maybe in dreams and poetry:) I really love both these poems for their enchanting power to illicit from me, my own vignettes and joy and sadness by the sea. Thank you for gifting these treasures washed in by your tides…Bravo Lance!

    • Hello Karima, this is beautiful prose, my dear friend. The eloquence with which you write is brilliant. You painstakingly insert each word with the skill of a literary genius. What I take from this makes me a better poet. It helps me to calibrate my next poem. I have learned and continue to learn from the words you write. I am forever grateful.
      “Progress” has eaten everything but my memories. This is an exacting truth.
      I’m also very appreciative of you sharing a part of your past.
      Peace and light

  19. Thank you Lance, for inspiring us all with your amazing imagery and tale telling in a polished poetic style. You are unique. I am glad you enjoyed a little of my past.. We are what we have lived..there is no getting around that:)

    • Dear Karima, I absolutely enjoyed a peek into your past. Fond memories I hope… And, I’m most grateful for your thoughtfulness. It means a lot to me. Thank you! Blessings.

  20. Devon Brock says:

    Yes, here it is – the sea, a plaything for children, a cauldron for those that would challenge it. The sea is one of the most impactful metaphors of the human experience, because to experience it, in it’s complexity, you must view it from diverse perspectives. We could paint a view from the dunes and reflect on its sublime beauty. We could wade in and let it tickle our ankles. We could wade further, and realize that the knee-deep was merely the taunt to lure us further into peril. We could ply its bounty, take what we can, what is offered. But to do so comes with a cost.


    • Devon, this is a masterpiece of thoughts laid down on canvas, painted by an artist of the written word. So very appreciative and grateful for your palette of colorful words. Best regards, my good friend.

  21. Barbara Kasey Smith says:

    Lance, your words echo into the dark cavities of my mind, rich with dramatic images arousing the mind of the reader. It’s wild in a sense as it brings about arousal to search each image, powerful, awakening, and showing absolutely fantastic wordage. You never fail to amaze me, I remember when we both were rather new at poetry and you are doing awesome. Barb:)

    • Hello, Barbara. So eloquently your thoughts and words flow, as majestic as the sea itself. Yes, I remember when we were both new at poetry. Thank you, dear friend… as are you!
      Blessings and hugs.

  22. Very thought provoking poetry.
    I have always loved the ocean.
    Breathing in salty air, hearing voices of seagulls calling, and feeling wet sand beneath my feet as I walked along the shoreline….I miss that!
    Living in Hawaii for 11 years was awesome. On an island surrounded by water, it was so easy to end or start the day with a walk on the beach.
    Could not stay there forever though–too expensive.
    “….the sea now a waning stranger.”

  23. SillyShruti says:

    Beautiful poems ☺️

  24. murisopsis says:

    You have been listening to my thoughts and then taking them and making music!! I love both of these. We are all from and of the sea…

  25. Yash Dadlani says:

    BRILLIANT. This is impactful poetry. 🙂

  26. cindy knoke says:

    You, create images in my mind.Your talent reminds me of TS.

  27. Reflections has to be my personal favorite. You have amazing talent and the best words to describe feeling and emotions. I genuinely love reading your poems. keep blogging man

  28. You brought the sea alive with your verse, Lance!

    Reflections deeply touched my heart. Your writing is incredible.

  29. obort says:

    Hi Lancesheridan I nominated you for the Vincent Ehindero award. You can see this on my last post. Congratulations 💚

  30. cath says:

    Beautiful images. I do like:
    The children came by day, like husks of shells
    washing along the beach and into tidal pools;
    they speak a language, but not of the living.

  31. Reading your poems requires effort and thought. Their complexity is a challenge, but they are worth the effort. Thank you, Lance, for this beautiful post. I am aware that my reflections on these two poems are those of an amateur. Please excuse me for that.

    I am sure that the fishermen who drowned must have viewed the sea as a source of delight, as I do, visiting the beach for a few hours on a sunny day…the sparkle of sun on the water, the sand beneath bare feet, sea breezes and sound of the surf, pelicans overhead, and the dolphins who leap beside us as we swim. I think that is also how the children of the past experienced the beach in the second poem. Sadly, it is the beach that has died in this poem.

    The fisherman’s appreciation, however, goes deeper than that; they also know the grueling labor required to make a living from the sea, days away from their families, the everpresent dangers they face. I think, if asked, fishermen would probably say that drowning would be a good death. It would be their choice to die in the sea rather than lying in some hospital bed drugged beyond the ability to experience their own death. An equivalent might be the cowboy who wants to “die with his boots on.” I think that attitude is beautifully expressed in the descriptions of wading out into the sea and drinking seawater from a cup.

    Your beautiful imagery and metaphors give us a glimpse of this kind of connection to the sea. I don’t feel sadness at the death of the fishermen so much as admiration for their way of life, arduous as it is!

    I hope you are doing well. Best regards, Cheryl

    • Cheryl, I’m greatly honored with this wonderful review of my poetry. It is a very descriptive reflection on both poems. One so detailed as to make an excellent literary review. The detail to which you write with goes well beyond the norm. It’s like a spiritual uplifting. You’re truly a very gifted writer! Blessings, my friend.

  32. Dolly Vas says:

    Sir, you just made my day by this poem I tried hard to assimilate(understood)this

  33. Such deliberation of words; gorgeous.

  34. Cool! You like poems too!
    Lovely piece, by the way. So descriptive!

  35. I can smell the sea… and feel the wet and dry sand between my toes. Haven’t been to the beach this year… yet. Thanx for imagery come to life, Lance.

  36. cheriewhite says:

    Beautiful post! I’ve always loved the beach and the ocean!

  37. Garima Puri says:

    Excellent poem sir 😊🙏

  38. 3bones says:

    Both of these pieces of your work develop exquisitely in the reader’s mind. Your words carefully weave each image and teleport each reader into the moment. As well, both the chosen images give each of your works their own unique identity. Impeccably crafted.

  39. Shanyu says:

    Like the waves of the sea wash over the sand, these words brought with them so many memories. Love the subtleties of the word play. It’s a wonderful segue from one line to another. These words are really calming to the ears. Lovely writings.
    I must also say how your words weave an awestriking image in the minds of us audience. Moves us and takes me to places I cannot even define.
    Really glad to read this work of yours. So so beautiful.

  40. Ali Grimshaw says:

    Ode to the Sea spoke to me in may ways.

  41. “without enchantment, their laughter ceased to amuse . . .”

    Powerful! Children do seem to leave a part of themselves behind when they must cease an activity they are really enjoying. I guess it is all a part of growing up, which begins when we are born. Thought provoking poetry! Thank You for sharing!

  42. Reading this reminds me of my childhood. Where I spent an immense amount of time swimming or simply playing on the shore. I miss my hometown.

    This is captivating!

  43. Reading this glorious poem made me feel like I was floating on the sea for a few minutes. Thank you, Lance! You take man to the seas and pleasant dreams with magic words.

  44. Lance, thank you for the follow and for the opportunity to find your thoughtful poetry.

  45. Muralikrish says:

    Lance, wonderful poem.👌

  46. francisashis says:

    Every little movement has been described very carefully ,that’s the trick of an experienced sorcerer (here poet).Hats off to you sir for your great patience and thinking power.🌹👍🙏

  47. Beautiful work! You add meaning to the words.

  48. I’m so aprreciative of such a beautiful writer as your self vistiting my blog and following me. Thank you very much. I look forward to reading more of your exquisite work.

  49. Wow, I pictured sea and fish and I smelled salt !!! Wonderful poem with such captivating words, nicely penned😊😊😊

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