The Gift


He had spent his youthful summers on Cape Ann,

but life, as it has a way of doing, took him many miles away

to a place where his kids were born and are growing up

not knowing Stage Fort, or the harbor, or the people of Gloucester.


They have never seen the brave souls on the greasy pole

or splashed in the Good Harbor surf, or, until this day, stood

on a rock watching the fishing boats live out the traditions of

nearly 400 years that began on this precise spot.


So he gave his kids a gift, one that they will remember

and cherish and make them think of him well after they

are grown and have children of their own;

a gift that only a parent can give.


On this lovely day in July he brought them to Gloucester

and showed them around and told them stories

of his summers in this place and gave them

a part of his life that they will keep forever.


© Marty Luster 2012




Frenchman’s Pier


How sublime it would be to have lived here as a child;

to amble out on Frenchman’s Pier to cast a line,

or, in the early morning, hear the tide softly

brush the marsh grass of the Little River’s gentle shores.


Oh, what it would have been like to take my skiff

to explore  Susan Point and Stanwood Point

and keep going beyond Biskie Head into the

Annisquam –  and from there  –  from there, anywhere!


A place where I could steer a course in a summer breeze

that never ends and see foreign lands and

mountains and magical islands, all while on

my back, gazing up from Frenchman’s Pier.



© Marty Luster 2012







The Summer Glare


Aboard the Pequod, Ishmael describes the

Japanese Sea as illumined by “freshets of effulgences”

or overflowing streams of brilliant light.

Did he, while in Nantucket, not experience

what we, in Gloucester, find daily in our summer sky?


Here, where the ocean cleanses the air and

allows the sun to reach us without filter;

where most summer days produce an explosion

of light that washes out the brilliant colors

around us and makes us squint to get around town;


Where shadows are not soft and moody, but

are stark and sharp, and walking down a flight

of outside stairs requires most careful placement

of our feet, and where we learn to recognize

people and places by their silhouettes,


and where sun and sand and sea glare so that we

sense the beach, rather than see it, like actors

looking past the footlights to an unseen audience,

and where  patterns in the sand go unnoticed

as we walk the shore into the cauldron’s fearsome light.


It’s as if we cannot be trusted with

the airs of summer; that we must be

protected from the magnificence around us

lest we succumb to this abundance of beauty

if we should see all that is within the glare.


© Marty Luster 2012

The Dance


Once each month we witness a celestial ballet

when the orb of night ascends in the east

just as the sun sets in the west and we

move from sunlight into moonglow.


And I, from my place above the Annisquam,

get to see the reflected glory of the setting sun

beaming brightly from Thurston Point and,

at the same time, the rising moon’s illumined face.


What exquisite choreography; what exact timing;

what a marvel of precision and what unique seats

we, here on Earth, have – to be able to be,

however  briefly, exactly between opposing sun and moon.


And the performance is repeated month after month,

year upon year, eon after eon,

with the ballerinas always on time to dance a dance

that will continue long after the audience is gone.


When the Earth turns to ice or dust and

the oceans are dry or spread upon the land;

or when infernos burn and whirlwinds blow,

for the sun and moon, the dance goes on.


© Marty Luster 2012

Far Out in the Harbor


Far out in the harbor in the pink dusk

of a late June day, lies a schooner fast

to her anchor beneath the first quarter moon.


The softness of the scene mesmerizes me

and I imagine I can hear the rigging softly

click and ring against the swaying masts.


I quietly breathe in time to the gently

breaking surf. The nearby sounds of the Fiesta

are dampened by my meditation;

I am drawn into the temple of the harbor.


© Marty Luster 2012

Nearly Every Day


Nearly every day I wander about

with camera in hand (attached like some odd

prosthetic device) trying to capture

the seconds that constitute my life.


It’s as if by snapping the shutter I

assure myself that nothing will change;

the people and places I see and freeze

in time will always be here and I will always


be unseen, but still be part of the whole

of this marvelous place discovered so late.

And those who tend their shops or perfect their art;

who play with their kids and fix and serve our meals,


or prepare their boats for long hauls at sea;

and those who repair our roads, connect our phones,

keep the peace and douse our errant fires and

those who find joy on the water; all those who don’t see me


as I observe them from the docks and corners

and the doorways as I walk  the town

make their lives part of my own and allow

their moments to mingle and merge with mine.


I put my camera to my eye and for one

fraction of a second a silhouette and I are one,

sharing that brief instant, caught forever

in a world that will never change.


© Marty Luster 2012





A June egret sees

the tide recede inch by inch

while I hurry by.


© Marty Luster 2012


Call Me Ishmael


Not long ago I took one of my usual walks

to the waterfront .  It was not, as Ishmael says,

during a damp, drizzly November in my soul, but  in

the real chill of a drizzly Gloucester afternoon.


Despite the gloom, I found myself not alone

on the Harbor Cove boardwalk near Lat 43.

At the far end, among the traps, sat a man feeding the gulls,

looking out over the bulwarks of the nearby boats.


The scene reminded me of the rest of Ishmael’s

opening observations: there is something

that draws “almost all men in their degree  *  *  *

to cherish the same feelings towards the ocean with me.”


Those feelings compel us to choose the water’s edge

even when a snug room or restaurant  is nearby and

might  provide some comfort, say a cup of soup or tea;

but we decide to stay outside to watch and feel and wait.


We, who, unlike Ishmael, cannot “sail about a little

and see the watery parts of the world” still drift to

beach and marsh and wharves just to gaze and stare,

and let our senses absorb and our imaginations soar.


© Marty Luster 2012

When I Visit The Docks at Night


When I visit the docks at night I enter a mystical realm;

what’s familiar in the daylight becomes a stage for a

pageant  from another age –a reminder of what has been

and a plea from the past for us not to forget.


Work for the day has ended, the docks are empty.

The boats are all secured and the gulls are quiet.

It’s night and our vision is limited, but small sounds,

as from an unseen wind chime, render accompaniment.


The stage is set as the yellow glare from the tethered boats

is diffused in the mist that has descended across the harbor.

It offers a comforting aura to an audience of one

and a mellow atmosphere that softens the chill night air.


At night in the shadows cast by the pilings and the rigging

and the nearby buildings on the wharf, unseen and unheard,

I listen to the hubbub of the ancient crews as they gather

on these docks to lay in stores and ice and their very lives.


I see their dories nested on deck, the trawl tubs loaded

and the buoys and anchors assembled.

They await their voyage to the Banks and their

deployment at the proper time and place.


I see hope in those faces that their dories may

be filled with hundreds of thousands of pounds

of fish; that their payday is generous and their

return to this good port is swift and safe.


And, as I listen and watch this pageant unfold,

my wish is that all those whose voices I hear

and whose faces I see and whose hopes  I feel, will return

to perform for me when I again visit the docks at night.


© Marty Luster 2012

The Old Map


The old map I picked up downtown at Fred Bodin’s

tells me a lot about where I am.

In 1884 my house would have been part

of the holdings of Wilber E. Proctor, whose family

owned quite a bit of land in West Gloucester.


But the map also tells me that there was no

dwelling where mine now stands, or anywhere else

on Mr. Proctor’s land; that nearly the entire area

of the Adams Estate, which included Wingaersheek,

and Wambull’s property along Coffin’s Beach, was vacant.


Atlantic Street was there, skirting the marsh as it does today;

branching with Atlantic Avenue which ran straight to

the beach, giving Benjamin Trumbell access to his home

near Sleepy Hollow Pond.  Who knows, the remains

of his three buildings may still be there in those woods.


But not a sign on the map of the houses now crammed

quite close together, each vying for a better view

of the ocean and the beach and the light across the bay;

each the home of joyous summer and the expectation

of more to come, but that map had not yet been made.


© Marty Luster 2012


With thanks to:

Bodin Historic Photo

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82 Main Street

Gloucester, MA 01930