KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Prose Poem: 298 words

Sands at Almada

by Thomas F. Sheehan

The boats sit near Almada by a wide river’s mouth, their bows scattered to oddest compass points, small scoops on a lone interminable sea rising to my ever-imagined yet illumined sight line where a gallant Genovese fell away from the known world. They are not deserted, though faintly cold for oarsmen who walk down this beach behind me, oh, stomachs piqued and perched with wine, salted hands still warm with women, mouths rich with memory and signals. Two sons are left who later come down to this beach, to these small boats topping the Atlantic, gunnels bare inch from the Father of Oceans, coursed to stalk, to one anchorage by thin rope and a night full of tidal pull. At Almada I stand between commotion and the other, silence; inhaling olla podrida spills riding ocean’s air with a taut ripeness, bath scents, night’s wet mountings, varieties peeled, scattered to dawn, and see boats move the way sea and earth move against a distant cloud. I question heart hammer, the swift arc that drives raw poles of moorings into the sea floor. I picture a mustachioed Latin god laughing at his day’s work as he waves to one dark woman on the strand; and see her, urged from bed or kitchen, in clothing gray and somber, near electric in her movement and scale of mystery, eye the god eye to eye. Such is the mastery of eyes. An artist tells us what is missing is important. Inland, before dawn hits him, an oarsman knows an old callus where cold Atlantic sends swift messages, for up through the toss of heel and calf, through the thew of thigh and spinal matter, radiant in his miles of nerves, these small boats gathered at Almada speak of their loneliness.

Thomas F. Sheehan
Issue 2, Winter 2015

Master of several genres, Sheehan has been writing for a long time—eight decades—and he has no plans to slow down. Hundreds of his short stories appear online and in print venues, with nearly 400 of his Western stories alone in Rope and Wire. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize 28 times. One of his five short-story collections, The Westering, was nominated in 2012 for the National Book Award, and one of his five poetry collections, Korean Echoes, was nominated in 2011 for a Distinguished Military Award.

Sheehan served in the 31st Infantry Regiment in Korea in 1951, an experience that forever changed his life and continues to inform his writing. Many of his stories also include a special character: his home-town of Saugus, Massachusetts. In 1990, he retired from Raytheon Corporation, after 35 years there as a writer and analyst.

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