Casino by the Sea

Poetry and Photography by Sarah E. Murphy/Copyright 2002

I loved venturing up the boardwalk to Under the Sun

sandy bare feet slapping against hot planks

to fill brown paper bags with fireballs and bulls’ eyes. 

I’d always stop and peer in the windows

wanting to know if it matched my mind’s eye

women in pastel bikinis perched on barstools like exotic birds 

stirring colorful concoctions with tiny umbrellas. 

Men huddled over amber-colored pint glasses

as rings of smoke wafted above their heads. 

But this was the 70s and 80s

in the days of the Brothers 4 and the Oak Crest Inn

when the Heights was like Daytona

and the commotion in the streets at night became 

my summer lullaby.

Car doors slamming

the offensive blur of a radio dial

inebriated voices echoing across the ballpark

coaxing me to sleep. 

Two decades later

I would come to know it from the inside

where singles came together

for the proverbial nightcap

and adversaries sometimes came to blows. 

By midnight you could barely move

so conversations were finished on the deck

weaving through the crowd 

a sea of tank tops and flip flops 

jean shorts and baseball caps.

Escaping the smell of stale cigarettes and spilled beer

for the soothing embrace of salty summer air. 

Then the lights would suddenly come up

the music abruptly stopping

a brief silence punctuated by boisterous refusal.

Stumbling slightly

down that same boardwalk of my youth

while bouncers and summer cops

herded us like bar-hopping cattle.

Swaying lovers

and strangers who met moments before

would cling to each other

as searches began for missing keys 

and friends lost in the crowd

while parked cruisers offered a not-so-subtle reminder to 

“Keep things moving…”

How naive we were

to think those nights would never end

along with lazy Sundays

nursing a hangover

on the Heights Beach

coaxed in and out consciousness by the roar of the ocean

and cover tunes wafting down from the deck

with the promising scent of fried clams.

Our beloved summer castle 

washed away by an unexpected wave.

Poetry and Photography by Sarah E. Murphy /Copyright 2002

One thought on “Casino by the Sea

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