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Oct 15

On the Burning Shore

by Kevin Ridgeway

the pastor prays for our souls
as we set up camp near the
lifeguard station,
the ocean bathed in glitter
from the rays of the sun

three of us will be baptized in
the ocean today;
I steal away in my
bare feet scorched
against sand and pavement
to a liquor store on the
main drag

I empty the contents
of a High Life tall boy
in the grim slime confines of a
portable toilet; the mixture
of sand and salt water
caked around the aluminum
and on my hands
scratches my throat

the pastor takes me into
the waves and asks
if I accept Jesus as my
personal savior,
and belching out
beer breath
in the wind

I lie

he pushes
my head into the
water
I stay there
for a while,
but not long
enough
to drown

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