.

At Brighton Beach the seagulls fly,
they soar and circle in the sky;
they swoop and steal the punters’ chips
amidst the backdrop’s sailing ships
and underneath the sun’s sharp eye.

The lockdown days have now passed by;
face-down upon my towel I’ll lie,
my limbs burned red as bacon strips,
__at Brighton Beach.

A year ago the end was nigh;
today I hear the joyous cry
of freedom in the wind that whips
about me as my sun-parched lips
give silent thanks to God on high,
__at Brighton Beach.

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First published in the Daily Mail newspaper, July 24, 2021

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Paul A. Freeman is the author of Rumours of Ophir, a crime novel which was taught in Zimbabwean high schools and has been translated into German. In addition to having two novels, a children’s book and an 18,000-word narrative poem (Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers!) commercially published, Paul is the author of hundreds of published short stories, poems and articles.


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30 Responses

  1. Jeff Eardley

    Paul, great poem. I love the seagulls swooping on the chips. With me, it’s always the fish they go for. A most enjoyable read.

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      Thank you, Jeff. We got the seagull treatment a couple of years ago at Yarmouth, on my daughter’s first trip to the English seaside.

      Reply
  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    I loved Brighton when I stayed in England. In the evening it was very like our Coney Island here in New York — fascinating, but somewhat dangerous.

    Also, the sand at Brighton is the only one that has the right consistency to build a really good castle, with towers and battlements.

    Reply
    • James Sale

      A fine poem Paul and I too can revel in the sense of nostalgia you create. But I really must invite Joe to visit Bournemouth, a much superior English seaside resort – with a 7 mile sandy beach! And none of that horrible violence he alludes to, correctly: remember Brighton Rock by Graham Greene? Also, politically, Joe needs to know that Bournemouth has 2 Conservative MPs, whereas Brighton has one (and the only one in England) ‘Green’ MP: you’ve guessed it, outside of London, Brighton is the Woke capital of England! Plus, they absolutely kill you with car parking fines in Brighton – I avoid whenever possible! But of course, once on the beach – sandcastles are sandcastles, good! Thanks Paul.

      Reply
      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Jim, my trip to Brighton was in 1970, so things have probably changed quite a bit! I was 22 at the time, and was especially attracted to the many “painted ladies” (if you get my drift).

        Bournemouth sounds wonderful.

      • James Sale

        It is Joe – but I take your point, 1970 was a while ago! Heck, in 69 I was crossing the solent on a ferry to attend the Dylan concert on the Isle of Wight! And from there … I went on to my first encounter with Bournemouth – my future home. I’ll show you round when you are here and take you for a fab meal in a great restaurant – you’ll love it! Ciao!

      • Paul Freeman

        Thanks, James. I have many great memories of family holidays in Bournemouth. It’s also where my parents went for their honeymoon. You can’t beat the ferry across to Sandbanks – if it still operates.

      • James Sale

        Hi Paul – yeh, it shut down during Covid, but I think it’s working now – a fabulous place; I used to do management training at the Haven Hotel, a posh venue overlooking the ferry crossing. And for those who don’t know – the ferry is a chain ferry and the distance it covers is no more than 100 metres, BUT if you don’t use it, to get to the Purbecks and Swanage, you have to travel miles and miles in an alternative circuit round! Thanks for all this interesting stuff!

    • Paul Freeman

      Brighton is certainly the best known of the British seaside resorts, Joe, and with a long and checkered history.

      Reply
  3. Peter Hartley

    Paul – deeply nostalgic and the postcard a reminder of much less complicated days, 1900-10 when my grandfather was a nipper, with those bathing machines brought down to the shoreline in the interests of modesty. I like the refrain “at Brighton Beach.”

    Reply
  4. Brian Yapko

    Paul, this is a very charming and well-crafted rondeau which expresses a gratitude in the little things which is — ahem — infectious! I especially like the wry little throw-away images of birds stealing one’s chips or one’s limbs burning into a bacon strip. Joy in the smallest of things within which you find holiness. So well done!

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      Thanks, Brian. Part of the joy of a rondeau is trying to get obscure rhyming words to fit in as seamlessly as possible – like the bacon ‘strips’.

      Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      Thank you, GMF. It seems ‘Brighton’ resonates with nostalgia on both sides of the Atlantic.

      Reply
  5. Joe Tessitore

    They said the lockdown days were gone,
    But with the breaking of the dawn
    The Germ Gestapo came for me,
    Just when I thought that I was free.

    A rooster in the distance crowed
    As from my arm, a blood drop flowed.
    A booster, friend, is what I lacked,
    So on the beach, I was attacked.

    It was for my own good, you see –
    The good of all humanity!
    They shot me up with gruesome juice.
    When they were done, they cut me loose.

    But now I lay there on the shore.
    I cannot swim – my arm’s too sore.

    Reply
  6. Paul Freeman

    Thank you for your comments, everyone. I’m encouraged to write more nostalgic pieces and dig through the archives for something in a similar vein.

    This was my second rondeau. The first was terrible.

    Reply
  7. Margaret Coats

    It’s a good rondeau, Paul, and as we have a rondeau category in the right column here, it should be listed as such. Maybe SCP staff can take care of that. The more we read of these fair forms, the better we write them. Thanks for an additional example.

    I liked the double meaning of “a year ago the end was nigh.” Could mean things were so terrible in July 2020 that you thought you were going to die. Could also mean that in July 2020 you thought the end of lockdown restrictions was nigh. But in the next line it’s a full year later, in July 2021, that you actually hear the joyous cry of freedom! Made me think of that lockdown justification, “two weeks to flatten the curve.” Good way to put pandemic frustration into the poem.

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      Yes, Margaret, no matter what side of the argument you were on, Boris’s so-called ‘Freedom Day’ on July 21st had most folk breathing a huge sigh of relief.

      Reply
  8. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Paul, this is one of my favourite forms and it’s lovely to see one about Brighton. You have me hankering after fish ‘n chips on a British beach. I do hope the meatless Mondays and sheep traffic calming measures have been scrapped… otherwise (like James) it’s Bournemouth for me. Great fun! Well done!

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      I’m half tempted to submit my ‘Chaucer’s Vacation in Bournemouth’ poem, Susan, but, to coin a phrase, James would probably ‘send the boys round’ if I did.

      Reply
  9. David Watt

    Paul, you did a great job of writing this rondeau. I’ve often seen “limbs burned red as bacon strips” on our beaches, and brazen seagulls snaffling chips. Your description is accurate and engaging.

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      Thanks, David. On that rondeau everything sort of came together – though the ‘bacon strips’ were a last minute addition!

      Reply

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