browsing category: Winter 2023

PoetryWinter 2023

Glass Beach — Derek N. Otsuji


Above one end of the crescent strip—
three greater white fuel tanks,
the catchment of industrial dreams.

At the other, a sea cliff,
where crumbling Chinese headstones
of the old McBryde Sugar Company cemetery
tilt beneath a crooked ironwood tree.

A shoreline dump
that dates back to the 1880s
when the sea was a covering.

But in childhood we called it
“Glass Beach,”
the sea’s magic factory churning
glittering shards
into translucent stones,
each snatching from sunlight
a gumdrop of sugared color.

when dyspeptic,
it burped beer cans, soda rings,
parts of a sunken car’s
corroded carcass.



A woman with a dog walks on the beach
in the early morning, the two alone.
She bends to pick a piece of green sea glass
the grinding water has thrown
onto the shore, when a wave washes over
the small paw prints, blooming tracks of clover.



To the comber’s touch
the glass seems soft
as scraps of cloth gathered
in a quilt’s hand-pieced legacy
—brown red amber white aqua olivine.


Born on Oahu, Derek N. Otsuji is the author of The Kitchen of Small Hours (SIU Press, 2021), selected by Brain Turner for the Crab Orchard Poetry Series Open Competition and featured in Honolulu Magazine’s “Essential Hawaii Books You Should Read.” He is a 2019 Tennessee Williams Scholar (Sewanee Writers’ Conference) and received awards from Bread Loaf and the Kenyon Review. Recent work has appeared in 32 Poems, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Bennington Review, Cincinnati Review, Crazyhorse, LitMag, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review, and Wildness.

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