a love letter to california

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coconut, coppertone and seaweed

gritty sand


the surf’s frothy, lace edge

always changing

a nap

eyes closed just long enough to glimpse a dream

cool shower before dinner

bamboo soap

fruity, sour cocktails


sipped through a thin straw

the glass

beading up with condensation

it collects

and drips

to the base

leaving a saturated circle on the paper napkin

sea bass at the end of a pier

in an open-air cafe

unseen waves, crashing

you smile at me across a small table

under a purple canopy

studded with stars


-Melissa Placzek 2011

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  19 comments for “a love letter to california

  1. Dana
    July 6, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I love it. Succinct descriptions that allow the senses to completely understand, but leaves room for my own interpretation. I’m a big fan of “in the moment” writing, like this poem. Nicely done!!

    • Melissa
      July 6, 2011 at 11:11 am

      Dana, thank you so much for saying that. It means a lot coming from you, one of my favorite poets 🙂 I was reluctant to post it. I hadn’t written a poem in 20 years. Something about being by the ocean made me want to again. XO

    • Melissa
      July 6, 2011 at 11:15 am

      XO 😉

  2. Dana
    July 6, 2011 at 11:14 am

    The ocean will do that to a person. 😉 I’m glad you posted it. xo

  3. July 6, 2011 at 11:51 am

    that was really beautiful Melissa. 🙂

    • Melissa
      July 6, 2011 at 11:53 am

      thanks 😉

  4. Melissa
    July 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Dana- I agree with your take on the ‘rhyming, greeting card style’ poetry that you expressed in an earlier post. Would you care to elaborate? 🙂

  5. Dana
    July 6, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I find the typical greeting card poetry to be incredibly trite. It rhymes because the writer is trying very hard to make it rhyme. Often, it’s not even lyrically correct (not that I’m big on that anyway, but if you’re GOING to try for a pattern, at least get it close!). There are some amazing greeting cards out there, but most of them are just over-the-top cheese crap. And if I’m going to read a poem, I don’t want it to sound like one of those cards!

    You are the sun,
    Look at the tree,
    as pretty as can be.
    I’m sorry your dog died.
    Wait, I lied.
    I don’t care…
    just wanted to share.

    See how meaningful that is? It took me exactly 17 seconds. 😉

    • Melissa
      July 6, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      If you want to see some more crap…I could direct you to a certain site. JUST SAYIN’ 🙂

  6. July 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm


  7. Dana
    July 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    There’s a lot of crap out there. What I like about the style of poem you wrote up there ^ is that it gives me the emotions that go along with MY experiences related to the words used. Simplifying a big experience into a small amount of space gives me room to come up with my own conclusions (the whole idea of poetry, in my opinion). A poem is at its best when it doesn’t tell you what you’re supposed to feel when you read it. “Greeting card” poetry leaves absolutely no room for that. It’s all laid out for you, like a pre-wrapped piece of flattened cheese food. I like to think for myself. Just sayin’. 😉

    • Melissa
      July 6, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      I believe there is something to be said for being frugal with words. I love one of the lines of the English teacher in the movie Orange County. “I see you used a lot of big words. Congratulations.” I don’t think poetry is about “wordsmithing” or showing off what a big vocabulary you (think) you have. it’s about feeling. it’s about the moment. Just sayin’ 😉

  8. Dana
    July 7, 2011 at 4:27 am

    EXACTLY! Minimalism in poetry has been a huge trend since way back in the 1920s. The over-the-top, didactic poems that were being circulated back during the Prohibition were a seen as preachy and superfluous. Give us back our own ideas! people cried. The result was minimalism. Sometimes a poem was just one word, or one sentence. It has since morphed over the decades to exactly what Melissa wrote in “a love letter to california.” Big words, flowery language… all good. But just because one is acceptable doesn’t mean another is not. It’s POETRY for the love of all that’s good and holy! LOL

  9. Melissa
    July 7, 2011 at 8:45 am

    I think it’s interesting when I read a poem and can tell that it’s not necessarily about the writer putting feelings or images down on paper, but trying to use all the ‘flowery’ words they can stuff in there to try to impress people with their supposed intellect. My writing style is minimalist. At least that’s how I’d define it today. Maybe it stems from three years of “writing down the bones” of a novel. At this point I can’t stop to get all wordy or I’ll never finish. It feels good to just get something down on paper. Complete. I think writing poetry will help my book be born, and right now that’s my main concern as a writer.

  10. Dana
    July 7, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Therein lies the only thing that matters, when writing anything. “It feels good to just get something down on paper.” There ya have it. xoxo

  11. July 7, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Welcome back lovely! I love this poem! I don’t know a lot about poetry so I don’t know what style it is, but I love the way it made me visualize the evening. It said just enough, without too much. Sensational!

    • Melissa
      July 7, 2011 at 10:44 am

      Thanks ladies! I love you both 🙂

  12. Chantelle
    July 15, 2011 at 8:41 am

    heehee to the comments! 😉 LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT to the love letter! Fantastic. Made me thirsty and I almost booked a flight!

    • Melissa
      July 15, 2011 at 9:13 am

      Thanks so much Chantelle!

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