The evening enveloped us

as we stood on the beach at Newquay.

In the sand, with sunburnt fingers

we had scrawled our man-given names,

symbols to bond us together,

dusty blood brothers, father and son.


We watched the rise and fall of the timeless tide

which would certainly erase our random scratchings.

Behind us the carnival madness

of one armed bandits and revelry erupted,

the microcosms of hedonistic pursuit and

man’s compulsive struggle for material gain,

those false tormentors

that bind us firmly to the lie of Everyday.


Only the gulls that drifted above

reflected the true spirit of man,

that self

which has faced the facts,

escaped the murderous strains of ego,

risen beyond

the falsehoods of ‘I’.

Some time

we too

must face the facts.


He pointed at the lights

reflected upon the waves

and cried,

‘‘Look, Dad…

it’s like a Van Gogh painting!’’

I saw him then, suddenly

and realized

my carnival years had passed,

blind years of sensual endeavours.

And too,

called to mind the myth

of all eternal art,

how really one man’s tortured output

merely entertains the masses.


My son beckoned, pointing to a mound

that stood upon the threshold of destruction.

Why? I thought, picking up the spade.

Why bother?

The tide that swamps the eagle’s nest,

that fells the fiery kings

that timeless tide will wash it all away.

Only the gulls,

by their absence

cheered me.




Mike Mcnamara
Photo Nick Victor

ONLY THE GULLS was originally published by the late Jay Ramsey in Rivelin Grapheme back in ’88.



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One Response to ONLY THE GULLS

    1. Sounds like a lovely experience with a child of yours

      Comment by Alistair Geran on 10 March, 2019 at 12:32 pm

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