Mar 202012

A gifted poet, playwright, screen writer and legendary performer of his own material, Gary Moore recently retired from his day job as dean at Vermont College of Fine Arts and now sips ambrosia on the beach on the Blessed Isle of Puerto Rico and looks at the ocean which has become his muse and companion. He is sorely missed, irreplaceable, but, we firmly believe, has gone to a better place.

Gary’s play Burning in China, directed by Academy Award nominee Caleb Deschanel, was one of the hits of last year’s New York International Fringe Festival, where its two-week run was sold out after it was featured in both The New Yorker and The New York TimesBurning in China made its way to New York through a series of over twenty other presentations from San Diego to Istanbul.  His bi-lingual rap opera The Great Emancipator Meets the Monkey King, produced in Shanghai in 1988, introduced rap music to the People’s Republic of China.  His fully-scored verse drama Beaver Falls was produced by the much-honored regional company Lost Nation Theater and won the Artist Fellowship of the Vermont Arts Council.  His script for the documentary film Valley Forge, narrated by Henry Fonda, was honored when that film won awards at three foreign film festivals along with the Golden Eagle, the highest artistic award of the U.S. State Department.

You can see his earlier contributions to Numéro Cinq here and here.




I saw a stream once lonely as a stick-thin child
And rivers can be downright grown-up lonely
The way you’ve seen them in the wilds of northern valleys
Where the craggy green haunts their silent turns
And a lake, my god, a lake longing like a mirror
With mountains between it and any others of its kind
Consigned to distance the way the blind are
Whose lives compel them to faith and hope
But the ocean, the ocean – there is nothing so lonely
You can’t see the ocean without a broken heart
Or you might but only if it’s not your ocean
The one that like you has no like and no mate
That invites but forewarns you
As if it were your soul vast flat and gray
Willing but not able to hide all you’ve done
Spreading itself the way that first woman did
Set forth in me and you’ll touch all there is
Before it swallows the sun at the end of the day
In that distance no one can see beyond



It’s true that the ocean comes in just for you
The way you need it to now that you’re alone
The white rollers spelling your name in code
That only you read and know as it disappears
Because there’s no need for names when you plunge in her waters
Through the foam whose infinite nimble fingers
Edge the blue that they used to make goddesses of
The ones who live within you still
Changing robes before mirrors in the wind’s white rooms
Knowing the surf crashes and whispers to get what it wants
Because they’ve always done the same
Although now that your name’s gone there’s no language here
None that we find on our maps of going
Or even on that map of return you learn in her belly
From which only heroes ever emerge
Always glistening in the hands of the spirits inside you
Who smile at each other as they give you to the world



When I was somebody the waves came sliding
Rising from forces pushing forward to shore
Never giving a damn
Or maybe they were laughing spilling shining foam
What the hell did I know?
Or crying so deep their bellies might break
As if they’d just washed Christ at the crucifixion
It was all so beyond me when I was someone
And it’s no different now
Still that rhythm you can count on
Though it’s never the same
Like something a guy who’s lost in the world
Finds to come home to
Not the wife you adore with her hair in her eyes
And her housecoat open
But the waves, not one of whom anyone’s ever seen in town
Coming in again and again
And spreading themselves on the shore

—Gary Moore


  3 Responses to “Lonely Oceans: Poems — Gary Moore”

  1. It is so nice to have Gary back for a moment, through these poems. He has a big heart and he’s brave enough to feel all of this and not be shy about it. Oh, that last one – Coming Home to the Waves – that just got right inside me. Thanks, Numero Cinq, for getting them to us all the way from Puerto Rico. Gary if you’re reading this, have a little extra little sip of ambrosia for me.

  2. I’m in love with the lonely.

  3. Lord God, I miss my amigo Gary! LOVE the poems. I can hear the surf and feel the tightening in my heart and of the salt on my skin. Love you Gary!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.