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August 27, 2014

Surf in Verse: Summer’s Last Ride

Sunset surfer

Sunset surfer


By John M. Giles (1911)

An early example of surfing themed poetry, obviously post-dating the ancient Hawaiian legends that have surfing content.




 The beach gleams white in the sun’s strong light,

The ocean’s a fathomless blue;

The breakers roar on the reef and shore

And call to me and you.

The water is clear where the great fish sheer

‘Tween the coral rocKs below,

And the surf boards ride there side by side,

While the breakers come and go.

It is each for each as we leave the beach,

And nose through the breaking blue;

It is paddle well as we hit the swell

And brea the white crest through.

There’s a sudden swing, a twist and a fling!

The board points for the shore!

And you fix your eye where the surf flings high,

To fall on the reef aroar.

You watch it leave with a rising heave

Gathering force as it goes;

And you paddle away and you dip and sway

As it near and nearer shows.

Then you flash through space in a whirling race,

And a smother of salt sea spray,

And the sea laughs by and the great bl\1e sKy,

Both call their roundelay.

The warm trade breeze that moves the trees

On the fringed shore ahead,

With lingering kiss and soothing hiss,

Steadies your whirling head.

So it’s out to the roar of the spray spumed shore!

Again and still again,

For life is good on your fashioned wood,

And you care or know not pain.




Giles, John M.: Surfing (Poem).

The Mid-Pacific Magazine

Published by Alexander Hume Ford, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, Volume 2, Number 4, October, 1911, pages A and B.


Dr. Don James, Surfing in the 1930s: A Documentary on the Pioneers of Surfing with soundtrack by The Challengers



By Debbie Prentice, aka SurfGirl

A surfer girl stands with her board in the sun,

Waiting to catch her crystal blue fun.

Here lies, ‘Paradise’ her haven of pure perfection,

She knows the waves will grant her full satisfaction.

The mermaids will let her have her only wish to be,

A Goddess of the ocean, their siren of the sea.

She seizes her chance, and darts through the waves,

Longing to connect with its deep, watery caves.

She hears Neptune’s roar, and yet there is no sound,

For she is lost within, she is forever bound.

The waves eventually let her go, and along the beach she’ll roam,

But the surfer girl knows, as the sun sinks below,

The sea will always be her home…


The Astronauts, ‘Baja’ (1963)



By Ralph Alfonso

Waves crash down


Morning mist

Hot sun burning

White boards rising

from the sand

camp stove coffee

smelling good

Fuel for the engine

Rhythm of the surf

Drums of the sea

One by one

into the ocean

throwing our bodies into

the liquid of life

Souls set free

astride our hearts

twisting and turning

propelled by ocean

into the white light of peace


fear the only obstacle

adrenaline the reward

sweat is our offering

baptized in the waters of

our creator

cleansed of our sins

given strength

to carry our message of

an infinite calm

a silence within

as day begins

the sound of the surf

dawn of the drums

© 1998, Ralph Alfonso


The G-Men (from South Africa), with John Kongos on lead guitar, ‘Raunchy Twist’ (1962)



by Juliette Llewellyn

Suddenly in water

the surfboard is looser,

less controllable.

On sand it

was firm under body,

now sea water flows

straight through.

We have to learn again

to push ourselves up,

as ocean’s swell

pulls us down.

Rope joins the board

to my ankle

keeping me connected.

Waves building


fresh air blowing

sea salt.

The oncoming wave.

I remember Egypt

snorkeling in Dahab.

Red sea. Ahead.

Blue water

coral shines pink.

I swim to the edge of the reef.

He appears

and sits next to me.

I want him to leave.

Immersed in ocean,

sky and sand. Stretched.

If you want freedom

choose me,

I will make you think

of nothing else.

Published March 9, 2014 at Keats House Poets Forum


The Chantays, ‘Pipeline’ (1963)



By Joe Linker

Embers of a partially burned ocean

In a box in a dank basement molting notes

A weathered surfer slowly descends the creaking

Worn stairs, dark swells yawning

Fish eyed and barnacle knuckled he climbs

Finds and opens the box, peers in, smells the pages

Runs salted fingers over the raised words

Rusting paper clips, chiseled letters in Courier font

Fading beached seagulls washing away in an incoming tide

Wired spiraled journaled waves

Bleaching across the page ink in water

Blistering sun burnt tattoos on old shivered skin

He can no longer read without bottled glasses

He chuckles, the tide receding washing scouring

White out rocks across words stuck buried in red tide pools

Breathing with a snorkel

The surfer leers over the smoldering sea

Takes up the seaweed soiled waxed manuscript

And paddles out of the basement

Walks down to the beach and what remains

Of the water and casts out the paper fish net

Into a set of scaling waves

Lit with a lustrous industrial moon

The waves curling letters in blue neon.

“Watermarks from a Night Spring” was originally published at The Coming of the Toads, a blog is written by Joe Linker

Joe Linker attended El Camino College and California State University at Dominguez Hills, earning a BA in English, with a minor in 20th Century Thought and Expression, and an MA in English, while putting in six years in the ACNG. Over a decade of adjunct work bookends 25 years in what Han-shan called the “red dust” of business (CPCU, 1992). He was a Hawthorne Fellow at the Attic Institute in Portland, Oregon, from April to August, 2012.

The Beach Boys, ‘Surfer Girl,’ from The Lost Concert (1964). The single peaked at #7 in 1963.


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