I saw a sea shell today,

But I wasn’t by the ocean.

And I didn’t see the type of shell

That you could tell

Had ever felt the motion

Of dying waves.


I saw a shell today.

A sorry shell, scarred and torn,

Battered, dry and broken,

By words left unspoken,

And searing empty scorn,

That nothing saves.


I saw a star today.

A bony shell of putrid smell,

A starfish once but broken,

It lies the dying token,

Of shooting stars that fell,

To you.


I saw a twinkling flash today,

Who whimpered out from lack of life

With no sense of direction

To garner the affection

Until the crashing surf of strife

Graced you.


For the unrequited venus kiss

        became the bliss that killed you.


Do you wonder? —well I guess not.

        Please be informed that I do.


Yes . . .

So near and yet so far,

I often wonder what you are,

And stop.


For then I see it’s what you were,

That caused within myself a stir,

And sigh.


Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

Now I see it’s what you are,

And die.


From The Stuttering Priest, 1984.