The Beach at Trouville

Salvatore Difalco

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Salvatore Difalco’s “The Beach at Trouville” immediately sends the reader into both a literal and metaphorical whirlwind; while attempting to traverse a windy beach, sand and umbrellas flying amok, the poem’s speaker attempts to come to terms with a lack of inner stability. In his poem, Difalco utilizes both sand and surrealism to amplify an all-too-familiar sense of uneasiness.

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Yolk began as an electric conversation around a picnic table in Saint Henri Square.

Our scruffy pioneer and present prose editor had previously approached each of us with an idea, a vision: We would establish our own literary magazine in Montreal. And so it was, or so it would be. After that original encounter, eight individuals devoted to the word resolved that they would gather bi-weekly, on Sundays, and bring something new into this busy, manic world—something that might slow its spin down somewhat and cause its patronage to say: “You know what, it ain’t so bad, is it, Susan?”

We are undergraduate, graduate, and graduated students of writing. Some of us learn our craft formally from accomplished authors in seminar courses, and some of us learn by looking out the window of the world and onto the streets that sing below. Some of us learn from screaming squirrels, old curtains, departed grandfathers, and bowel movements. We learn from old lovers, long winters, imperfect mothers, and from the deep internet where a musical genius remains entombed.

Yolk is cold floors on Sabbath mornings, home-brewed ginger beer in the endless afternoon, and downpours of French-pressed coffee in assorted artisanal mugs. Our first official gathering was scheduled for a duration of two hours; most of us remained for six, departing only to attend to the summons of our own beckoning realities. Together, with time suspended, we talked endlessly of contributing something to disrupt Montreal’s literary ecosystem. Something unparalleled, something true.

But what? There was nothing to discuss. There was everything to discuss.

We volunteer our time, hounding some elusive beast composed of combustible words and works. We are hopeful, truly hopeful, that we can give something new, a new way, a new light, and that if we cannot, we might at least uphold the traditions of our predecessors, cast star-wide nets to capture their echoes. We are a thousand decisions. We are a sanctuary for the orphaned word, the solitary writer, the cereal-eating artist who yearns for company, for the comfort of a like mind; we sit together with them at foggy dawn, it rains a baptism, with our arms and hands intertwined, we form an umbrella—underneath, they scribble madly, the perfect picture.

Yolk in no way presumes to be superior to its contemporaries, but its contemporaries should not presume yolk to be anything other than loud—quite, quite loud. We are yippidy jazzed to address the oh-so-technicolorful magnificence of the human experience, but we are prepared also to address the ugliness, to stare at its wet, hairy snout and into its square depth and to roar in return at the things that yearn to devour our skin, beset our ethos, and dig graves in our own backyards.

There’s so much to say, there’s so much we don’t know, but together, with you, we can placate that ignorance, render it peaceful, tolerable, and perhaps even, fucking beautiful.

And Susan says, “Amen.”

The wind blew wild all afternoon,
making free brushwork of the beach
and all the overdressed sun worshippers.
Little dogs flew around, untethered and yapping
for their lives as they thumped into long chairs
and magnums of brut champagne. The hairs
of my arms bristled and I pulled down my sleeves
and slipped a handkerchief over my face,
blocking the sand and debris.

Who brought me there? I can’t remember,
maybe someone I trusted. The past is like
a chestnut in my head, small, dark
and fit for squirrels. People spoke to me
in French. Qu’est-ce qui ne va pas avec toi?
Had no clue what they were saying.
Someone offered me a cigarette and
took it, but it would not light in the wind.
Désolée je ne peux pas t’aider avec ton cancer.
All I gathered was the obvious, but his
point of view and meaning escaped me.

Rise up and force your eyes to focus on the tiny
teeming figures below. I’m one of them; eyes
gauzed over, arm crooked over mouth and nose,
sand and wrappers whirling about, umbrellas
and parasols tumbling to and fro, and elephantine
couples in striped costumes gushing from the ocean,
splashing everyone around them. The scene
makes you gulp and rejoice that you are not
among the dumdums, like me.

As it stands, all I want is a hot dog (minus sand)
and because I am in France somewhere I fear
I’ll have to settle for a ‘frank’ with camembert
or mayonnaise, or pâté de foie gras, or snails—
I don’t want snails. I don’t want to be here,
but I really don’t want snails. 

Salvatore Difalco is a Sicilian-Canadian poet and short story writer currently residing in Toronto. SalDifalco.weebly.com

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