Barry Dickson and Bill Newby
Barry Dickson is a retired Madison Avenue Creative Director. His poetry and prose have appeared in a variety of journals, print and online, including North American Review, Haiku Journal, Pearl Literary Magazine, HazMat Literary Review, and his favorite, asininepoetry.com. He’s been a finalist for the Hearst Poetry Prize and received “Special Mention” in Pushcart Prize. His poetry book, Maybe Today, published by Cherry Grove Collections, is available at barry-dickson.com and Amazon.
Enough already with the snow. This chipping on the living room carpet and taking a full swing near the knick-knacks is getting old. Time to move south.
So began the wandering. I would pick a spot, do some research, find a realtor, and spend at least a week. First up, Ft. Lauderdale. Perfectly fine area. But it left me with a question. Why do I feel like I’m still in New York?
Next, Charleston. Now there’s a cool city. Lots of culture. I loved that there were no skyscrapers. And the restaurants, wow–among the nation’s finest. If I retire here, I’ll be 300 pounds in no time. Still, I had my first definite maybe.
Next, Myrtle Beach, land of 100 golf courses! But as I drove around, I found it hard to focus on the road–so much reading to do: Insured by Smith & Wesson … Baby on Board … Either Pass or Get Off My Ass … Stay 100 meters back or you will be shot.
On to West Palm Beach. You could have a very comfortable retirement here–activities, music, cuisine. It’s just that … Well, it’s just that, I don’t know what. I never did figure out what wasn’t clicking for me in West Palm. I spent the final days looking forward to next on the list.
Hilton Head Island. Now you’re talking! Originally a pine plantation, I love the way they didn’t clear the trees to build. They cut holes in the woods and dropped the houses in. The environmental consciousness impressed me. Like, you better not shine a light on those cute, baby sea turtles scrambling toward the ocean. I believe the punishment is life in prison or the death penalty. But what most impressed me, what propelled Hilton Head to the top of the list, was their response to McDonald’s: “Application approved, but no arch.” Now that’s telling the world, we ain’t screwin’ around down here.
One last contender. Naples. Stunning! It’s build around a kind of abbreviated Rodeo Drive. Magnificent shops, sidewalk cafes. One evening I stood in the middle of that main drag and thought, you know what, I could live with this.
I played several top-drawer Naples courses, then heard there’s this provate club that opens to non-members every Thursday. We’re talking several hundred bucks, but what the heck, I was there to really experience the place.
I drove down the tree-lined entrance–jeez, what is this, Augusta?–to the posh clubhouse, where they paired me with two members, Cal and Robert. We waited our turn behind the first tee, me alone in my cart. I don’t think they new I could hear them chatting in theirs.
Robert: “…you know, Jim lost over $390 million on that deal.”
Cal: “Wow. Thank God Jim can afford it.”
I felt myself longing for Hilton Head, where the millionaires are a lot poorer.
And so, I returned to that island, where I love my house … and the sea turtles.
NOTE: You can find this piece and many others in Ripples
Bill Newby uses poetry and prose to reflect upon daily experience. His work has appeared in Whisky Island, Bluffton Breeze, Ohio Teachers Write, Palm Beach Poetry Festival’s Fish Tales Contest, Blue Mountain Review, Panoplyzine, Sixfold, and four IWN anthologies. He was a 2018 Pushcart Poetry Prize Nominee. His three poetry collections (Sea Chests or a Carry-On, Passing Through, and Casting are available from Amazon.
The redwood hue of wooden slats
provides a pleasing backdrop
for the rhododendron, hosta,
joe-pye weed and ornamental grasses
arranged in groups of three and five,
like the landscape designer promised
over his unrolled drawings
before they dug each posthole
and wheel-barrowed enough fresh soil
to make room for roots to flourish
above the clay.
It’s a perfect setting
close to our back deck
where we can sit together,
sip wine, read, and talk.
And now, along the fence line
and above the dense foliage of trees and bushes
is a clear view of the roofs and ceiling vents
of nearby homes, from which,
like radio dramas from a passing car,
we hear the disembodied voices
of hidden players sharing their stories.
“Did you leave it on the stairs?”
“No, by the kitchen table.”
“Was Marcia okay when you told her?”
“I guess so. She knows we have to work,
and the kids come first.”
Someday we will meet,
and a voice will seem strangely familiar.
Or a new acquaintance
will look at us with a smile
and seem to know all our secrets.
You can find this piece and many others in Ripples