Middle-Aged Midwesterner at Waikiki Again

By John Logan 1923–1987 John Logan
The surfers beautiful as men
                                           can be
ride the warm
                     blue green
and the white sand is alive with girls.
Outriggers (double boats) ride the waves back in   
as the native warriors did.   
I tried to swim and tried to look,   
but ended up just going back:   
a huge, perfect black
man at the beach
somehow drove me away a block   
to St. Augustine’s Church.   
The bodies were giv-
                              ing me a fit
and I have come to seek the momentary calm
we find sometimes in the musk of Christ
(when he was awake
                            and sweat-
ing blood
               as others slept,
or like a furious bouncer
hustling out the money changers).   
The bodies of Mary and Christ
both still live, we’re told. They’re alive   
and thus
must have dealt with the stress   
of that long time
                           of turning on   
to being young.
I speak of teens.
                           Fifteen and ten

years ago when I first confessed,
it was in this same church built then   
as a gigantic shed
where the strange Hawaiian birds   
(I forgot their names—no matter)   
flew in and out of the high wood-
en rafters
like the whimsical winds of grace,   
and grace gives back to sight   
what beauty is—
that loveliness at the beach.
Now the church
                      has been rebuilt   
in pointed stone across the street   
from a much
                  higher new hotel
where at lunch
                      I almost spilled
and found I could not eat
the purple orchid in my drink.

John Logan, “Middle-Aged Midwesterner at Waikiki Again” from John Logan: The Collected Poems. Copyright © 1989 by The Estate of John Logan. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

Source: John Logan: The Collected Poems (BOA Editions Ltd., 1989)

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Poet John Logan 1923–1987

Subjects Christianity, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Relationships, Nature, Activities, The Body, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Love, Living, Religion, Midlife, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse


The late John Logan "was considered one of the superb lyrical poets of his generation," his publisher A. Poulin, Jr., told the Los Angeles Times. "He referred to poetry as a ballet for the ear." Logan, who was also the founder-editor of the poetry magazine Choice, is remembered as the inventor of what poet Hayden Carruth, writing in the American Book Review, once termed "postacademic academic poetry." Carruth explained the term . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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