Bookmark #11 Woody Point, Newfoundland

“The Sea Breeze Lounge,” by Al Pittman


It’s a warm overcast Bonne Bay afternoon.
There’s a slight north-east breeze on the water.
Inside, Black Hat George is tending bar.
He, myself, and one other patron are the only
people here.  The younger man has made his way
to the gambling machine with the aid of some
awkward machinery designed to keep him
upright.  A truck ran over him in Toronto
and he’s come home to learn to walk again.
— from The Sea Breeze Lounge, from the collection Thirty-for-Sixty by Al Pittman, published by Breakwater Books. Bookmarked at Woody Point, Newfoundland and Labrador, August 2012.

The Pittman family at the location of the former Sea Breeze Lounge, Bonne Bay, NL.

The Pittman family at the location of the former Sea Breeze Lounge, Bonne Bay, NL.

 

About Al Pittman and “The Sea Breeze Lounge”

Al Pittman was born in St. Leonard’s, Placentia Bay, in 1940 and was raised in Corner Brook. He was a co-founder of the seminal Newfoundland and Labrador publishing company, Breakwater Books, the creative force behind The March Hare festival, and the subject of radio, television, and film documentaries. Pittman wrote poetry, short fiction, children’s literature, several plays, and the lyrics to a number of songs that have become part of the folk canon of Newfoundland and Labrador. Pittman’s books include Down by Jim Long’s Stage, West MoonDancing in Limbo, and An Island in the Sky: Selected Poems of Al Pittman. In 2001, the year of his death, Pittman was awarded a Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for his poetry collectionThirty-for-Sixty.

“The Sea Breeze Lounge” is from Thirty-for-Sixty. The poem takes its title from the business that was once housed in this building. Pittman was a regular here and a fixture in the Bonne Bay area, which he loved.

Thirty-for-Sixty is published by Breakwater Books. This poem is used with the kind permission of the publisher and the Pittman family.


The Poem:

The Sea Breeze Lounge
It’s a warm overcast Bonne Bay afternoon.
There’s a slight north-east breeze on the water.
Inside, Black Hat George is tending bar.
He, myself, and one other patron are the only
people here. The younger man has made his way
to the gambling machine with the aid of some
awkward machinery designed to keep him
upright. A truck ran over him in Toronto
and he’s come home to learn to walk again.
The pool table stands staunch on its crutches.
The juke box is silent, all its hurtin’ songs
sung to silence because pain can be fatal
and machines and people do break down.
Of course, I’m here too, about to give up
and perhaps give out for good. But for now
I’m one of three survivors who’ve almost
survived so far. Almost isn’t a good feeling
but it shall have to do for now. You are
(my dearest darling, wherever you are)
surviving like the rest of us.I would like
to be of some assistance but the hazards
that have brought me here drag me down
like a heavy harness, an iron cross.
There’s not much comfort but plenty
of solitude in The Sea Breeze this overcast
afternoon. There’s a determined young man
learning to walk again. There’s George
who wears his black hat with wild-west
authority. He has one leg left and a vigorous
hop in every step he takes down the seaside
street at high noon, sunset or any time of day.
And there’s me, the picture of health
and wholeness (scared to death to stand up
lest I fall flat on my face.)
I think it’s worth it, whatever else our obstinate
ailments are, that we don’t fall down, that all three
of us (and you) do our best to walk upright
and go with hope to wherever we are bound.
Right now I know we three could use a drink.
And this round’s on me. But, most of all as far
from here as you happen to be this round’s
a toast to you, your agility and your vigorous ascent
to the top of your dreams.
 

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