Tag Archives: Lisa Noble featured artist B-Town Art Walk Oct 2013

A Long Walk on the Beach…one of my first Charman stories and included in “The CharMan Chronicles”


A Long Walk on the Beach


Late in the year if you time low-tide just right

Time it just right

You can walk almost all the way to Hobo Jungle

Past the Fair grounds and around the last jetty

And run-run for your life over the railroad trestle


People board their horses at the fairgrounds

It was never locked we’d just walk in and feed apple to the horses

We never thought about it then

It was never locked

We’d linger by the big gentle animals

Kind of feeling like we may not make it back from our long walk on the beach


Charman is said to be in the jungle this time of year

And he walks among the wind blown juniper

And the air smells like sumac and fennel, salt, low tide

And the air smells like something beyond death

When Charman walks the beach

Crows and seagulls silent

Waves break on the shore


We’d never tell anyone where we were going

Bye! I’m going into the hills by myself

Bye! I’m digging fossils in a lonely cave I found last week

Bye! We’re walking ten miles to Hobo Jungle to look for snake bones and hang over the train trestle as the 3:17 screams by because we didn’t time our crossing just right. What was the point?


And Charman moans, his bones clink-rags and burned flesh

And he howls a lonely sound like a seagull-a phantom

Like life’s last breath escaping into the mists

Burned in a cabin fire a century ago he ran in  to put out the blaze but it was a lost cause. Nothing to save but bones and dust, burnt to the ground yet nothing of him was ever found

Lost everyone everything lost- lost

And yet he did not could not, die


A scorched nightmare, a phantom of Foster Park

Traveling up and down from Minor’s Oaks, the Avenue, and the dark stretches of beach in fact, Charman could just about be anywhere. You could feel him if you began to tell his sad story. He knows when you are alone.


This time of year when the fog is thick

And strange things wash up on the beach, little sharks, man-o-war jellyfish, weird little blue things that stick to the dry whiffs of foam and other rotten flotsam of low- tide  

And it is pitch-dark night before you can sense the twilight


Charman’s image in the corner of your eye

His sliding bone step to match your own

He stops when you stop he is silent when you hold your breath


Footprints in the sand, they belong to someone big, someone heavy. They disappear behind the windswept dunes. Bits of charcoal and a trail through the tall seedy grass. A scrap of an old shirt stained and chewed with holes.


Heart pounding in your ears; that name on the tip of your tongue

Because you feel compelled to say his name three times in a row

Charman-Charman Char—wait! Don’t do it!

He longs for you in his unbearable solitude

Call three times and you will never be seen again

Think his name three times and he will know

He will know!


This time of year

In the jungle of juniper and tall fennel

And too many places to hide; tunnels through the rushes, holes in the sand, matted patches of low growing manzanita knarled and twisted from the wind

A far off seagull cries

And the ancient cedar tree is covered in monarch butterflies

Orange flutter fog- a twig snaps-

 Whiff of distant cigarette smoke

Slither of snakes –rustle of feral cats

A rattling cough

Hermit crabs and something else


It could be 2:30 or it could be nearly 6:00

Train whistle and that terrible rumble

If we’re going to get out of here it better be soon

Nearly invisible in my army surplus sweater

Beads of moisture- fog- cold sweat


Scramble over rocks dodging waves in soggy Converse

The trestle just wide enough-just barely enough for the train

Not there yet, can’t see it, close though

I can smell the creosote and something else

Something burning-something damp


Far away a rat shrieks

I can almost see the bridge- the tide’s coming in

This time of year rip-tides and eight foot waves

The gull soars overhead and it sounds like it’s crying

Charman- Charmen! It cries a third time and for a moment all is silent all is still. All I can hear is the sound of you breathing, all I can hear is the sound of your heart beating. The mist closes in around us as we make a run for it over the trestle along the ties.

Deep in the fog-a train whistle.