2023 Beachcombing Poetry Contest

Online Exclusive

By Albert Flynn DeSilver

pastel sea glass

April is National Poetry Month—30 days to celebrate the joy, expressiveness, and pure delight of poetry. I am honored to be part of this year’s Beachcombing Poetry Contest. Thank you to all of the poets who submitted their work—I really enjoyed the opportunity to read these poems. I love to celebrate art and writing in all its forms. Selecting one “winner” was difficult, but hopefully it’s instructive to reflect on the evolutionary aspect of process and practice and see what’s possible when we experiment creatively.

The 2023 winner is Charlie Tapper’s “Recipe for Sea Glass.” I chose this poem because of Charlie’s terrific use of “recipe language” to write about the creation of sea glass and everything that can go into its making, far beyond the literal. There is much play and experimentation in this piece and a lot of wonderful active language. The poem is musical without end-line rhyming (nothing wrong with end-line rhyming, it’s just nice to have things mixed up once in a while). The internal rhyme becomes an unexpected delight. 

“Pinch a rum wink from a pirate’s grin” and

“Snap off the vital spike of an iceberg’s heart.”

Things are happening dynamically in this poem, and there is plenty of metaphor and personification. I saw Charlie really working the full spectrum of the poetic tools always at our disposal, ear acutely tuned in. Bravo!

I also loved the haikus “Wave Reviews” and “Boat Festival.” What’s not to love about a good haiku? In poetry, less is often more.

A Recipe for Sea Glass

By Charlie Tapper
Sweep up the echoes of a drunken night
Smooth and stroke in a salted wave
Pinch a rum wink from a pirate’s grin
Roll in a shallow rock pool
Snitch the glint from a green flash
Baste with the brush of a mermaid’s tail
Dig up the brittle corm of a rainbow root
Tumble on an oyster bed
Haul up a glance from Davy Jones
Polish on the keen of a westerly gale
Strain the frozen shiver from a siren’s song
Strop on leathery kelp fronds
Distill the final retch of a sailor’s gasp
Whisk into a maelstrom
Freeze a spittle drop from a dragon’s tongue
Sift through starfish fingers
Salvage the last flicker of a winter sunset
Kibble into gleam grains
Scrape the loose change from a Buccha’s purse
Whet on a wind weathered stone
Pare down the spillikin point from a kraken’s beak
Snap off the vital spike of an iceberg’s heart
Muddle within flotsam nestle amongst jetsam
Garner a moonbeam flake frosted by nightfall
Leave to simmer in the fire of imagination
for as long as it takes;
look, find and treasure.


A note from Charlie about his poem: The idea of this poem is that the lines can actually appear in any order. I like the idea of potential randomness which comes from the shuffling of the lines as I feel it echoes the journey a fragment of abandoned glass might take in its life of shaping and smoothing in the vast soup of the ocean where wonderful and weird things may have occurred.

illustrated poem about sea glass

You can purchase an illustrated book of Charlie's poem made by his daughter Lucy at fromlucy.com.

Beachcombing Poetry Contest Entries

Wave Reviews

By Darcy Stoltzfus

Crew breaks on the shore
Cast awaits tide’s curtain call
Sold out performance 

Boat Festival

By Deena More 

Little fish to whale,
They gathered round my boat
Hungry eyes picking.


By Randi Lustig

Jewels of the Sea,
To Me.
The Shimmering Water
Dances from the Sun’s Rays.
What Shells Can Do
For the Seeker
On Any Given Day.

You and Me, and the Sky-blue Sea

By Silke Stein

Us, walking by the waterline,
is what I miss the most
of all those summer memories
we gathered at the coast

during those days when we felt just
as carefree as the breeze
that cooled our smooth and sun-warmed skin
still salty from the sea’s

great waves that showered us with spray
while we searched on the beach
for mermaids’ tears. and fancy shells,
rejoicing over each

found treasure. whether big or small —
we liked them equally.
It was the thrill of hunting that
enchanted you and me.

We loved the ocean and the sky
whose vast, blue, endless space,
incomparable, glorious,
was our favorite place.

The wind heard all the songs we knew.
We danced to the tide’s tunes,
and watched the gulls soar to the clouds
from hideouts in the dunes.

We dreamt of handsome mermen who,
taking us for a dive,
would gift us rare and precious pearls
and make us feel alive.

Only the surf was listening,
and maybe smiling when
we shared the secrets and the hopes
of our hearts, for then

we were quite young and everything
was new and full of sweet
promise gleaming as brightly as
the jewels at our feet.

And even though the years did pass,
these souvenirs are still
displayed in jars and vases on
my sunny windowsill.

I never stopped collecting them,
in fact, my passion grows,
and on each stroll along the shore,
I do remember those

very first times of being there
together, you and me,
blessed with a friendship pure and true,
and with the sky-blue sea.

 Saved by the Gulls: Beachcombing on Tiree

By Jane Ross Potter

The beach is remote, as remote as can be,
On a Scottish oasis, the Isle of Tiree.
The waves they are gentle, the sky perfect blue,
A great day for beachcombing – what else to do!

Armed with my tea flask, some food and my phone,
Although really hoping to be left alone,
I found a good spot and sat down to collect –
Be it shells, glass, or rocks, it was there to select.

With only the sound of the wind and the sea,
And a few seagulls feeding, not noticing me,
Life’s cares fall away when you do what you love,
But then came a terrible noise from above!

I looked straight up and let out a groan…
My peaceful beach, now disturbed by a drone!
The gulls had all noticed and took to the air,
Wondering, “What strange creature goes there?”

It wasn’t a Skua, it wasn’t a hawk,
But the brave little gulls, they didn’t balk.
Soon they surrounded the noisy machine,
Looking determined to pick its bones clean.

The drone rose and it fell, it veered left and then right,
Trying to avoid a gull’s vicious bite.
But the gulls were determined, minds thinking, no doubt:
“This loud bird’s an intruder, we must drive it out!”

I shielded my eyes from the glare of the sun,
And soon I could see what the seagulls had done.
With a sad high-pitched whine and a shaky ascent,
The drone limped away, its energy spent.

Peace soon returned, the gulls back on their rocks,
Now staring intently at my picnic box.
I’d opened my pack to find something to eat,
So I threw them a share, they’d earned a nice treat.

Leaving the gulls to their scavenging pleasures,
I resumed my collecting, my searching for treasures.
A drone has its uses, with that I agree,
But not while I beachcomb on lovely Tiree!

Wind Song

By Chris Ann Buday

A dreamy, golden morning,
To start a golden day.
The aroma of my coffee,
Soft wind, warm sunny rays.

The water smooth as glass.
The only sounds I hear:
A distant buoy bell,
And dock boards creaking near.

The simple things we long for,
A seagull flying high,
The swaying rock upon our boat,
As another passes by.

Today we go beachcombing!
Today we disappear!
For a little island hopping,
And treasures scattered there.

What magic we’ll uncover?
What beach glass will there be?
A fishing bob? Some sea bricks?
Once lost out at sea.

Every trek is different.
Never two the same.
It’s all about the hunt.
It’s all about the game.

We arrive, toss out the anchor,
No other boats in sight.
I do a little happy dance.
And sing sweet songs of delight.

Hurry now…..grab a float!
Hurry now…jump off the boat!
Now…Swim, swim, swim to shore!
My passion, my love……let’s go explore!

Ode to Sea Glass

By Louise Sciutto

Once I was whole
Then I fell and shattered into pieces big and small
I fell to the bottom of the sea, where I rolled, tossed, and turned
I kept rolling along as the sea current would take me
Finally I rolled so far as to see the sun again
The wave and sand kept giving me a finished polish
The sun made me sparkle on the shore of dull rocks and pebbles
I waited and wondered if someone would notice me
Then they did with glee
I tumbled some more with others in their bag
Soon to be free of the sea
Maybe I am special enough to be used in art or among others in a bowl
Now I am whole with whatever the fate may be

Transcending through a rainbow of simplicity

By Louise Todd

My thoughts stop, my body follows, only my eyes are transfixed through choice. I see it peaking out at me, daring to show its color and beauty.

This pivotal moment, it’s almost passed, I long to stay here succumbing to what my eyes and heart want me to believe.

My thoughts scramble, why me?

Were you dormant, waking now waiting for me? Making sense of this spiritual energy between us. I can’t but it’s there. If I reach down will you be there? Is my mind playing tricks with me?

My hand stretched, now my fingers fondling the sand and there you are. It’s true, I feel the touch of past and present, my eyes behold something magical in your sphere.

The Edge

By Amy Quinn

Along the edge
Sand glistens like a multitude 
Of stars.
I am me, and I am not
Me, floating among the flecks
Of discarded beauty—

Let me be wind,
Let me be a shard of glass
Worn smooth and lovely by
Tide and time;
Let me walk trailing the sea
Behind and ever-present
Like a memory, a braid of blue;
Let me be, as always,
A witness of bright and sun-kissed
Stone, a quiet traveler.

Let me feel alive.

Spark, then, in the moment
Unexpected, when the ocean curves
To meet the shore, mother reaching for child, reaching for 
The edge of what is wanted, what is known, what has wandered
A century or more, what has chosen
This one clear moment under the blinding sun
To be seen.

Around me the wind moves,
A second breath upon the water.
I stoop.
Gently, I pick it up.

Sea Glass Prayer

By Anne Bender

I am like a piece of sea glass.
Although I am nestled amid
the gritty sand and hard rocks
of life,
Your gentle waves of love
continuously wash over me
so that I become smooth and soft.
Look closely!
I am glistening, sparkling and colorful.
I stand out from my surroundings.
I am a reflection of Your Holy Love
within me.

Voyage Home

By Pamela Davis

Journey completed, revealed by the tide
Oh, what secrets you must certainly hide
Did you once adorn a shelf or a table?
Give me a clue if you're physically able
A symbol, trademark, or part of a word
Riddle to unravel, a curiosity cured
Abandoned, forsaken, discarded no more
Lauded and saluted by the beckoning shore
You've aged well for what you've gone thru
Reinvented, reborn, refined anew
Sea glass, metaphor for the human condition
A resounding transformation into fruition
Years of tumbling smoothed fractures away
Exposing the architectural wonder you've become today
Once lost and broken, now found and healed
A testament of strength, endurance, and beauty revealed

Ode to Seagull

By Pamela Davis

Masterful gulls, weathered and portly
Your cries they startle
Crabs hastily scurry
Beachcombers duck and dodge
One is dinner, the others are targets
Hovering for bread
The pieces are lobbed
A fight between young and old ensues
Feathers are lost
One is full, the others are fooled
Perched along the pier
A signal is given
Squadrons swoop to the shore
Footprints stenciled in the sand
One is dominant, the others follow
A triathlon commences — float, fly, walk
No medals are awarded
Maybe a pearl for a prize

Little Jewels in the Sand

By Amanda Pelley and Harold Whitt
As I was walking along the beach,
I saw some sea glass within my reach.
I knelt down and picked it up.
I quickly put it in my cup.
Oh how beautiful it did shine.
I knew it had to be all mine.
Into a locket I did make,
And wore it proudly for my keepsake. 
Now as I keep walking along the shore,
I keep looking for more and more.
Little jewels in the sand,
I just can’t wait to get them in my hand. 


By Marilyn A. Martell

Sounds interrupt the soothing rhythm of the ocean’s breath.
Gulls cry — calling to each other across the pulsing, rippled surface.
Insistently the fog horn’s hoarse voice intrudes…determined
to impact its important message to unwary travelers.
Off in the distance, the almost imperceptible hum of a fishing boat’s engine.
The clang of the bell buoy — the unseen voice of caution.
The roar of an Armed Forces plane — a technological invasion of this solitude.
The embarrassed, unwelcome chatter of tourists who stumble upon my private niche…
destroying my dialogue with Nature.

Hand-Me-Down Beach

By Marilyn A. Martell

Sand space, sunspots — echoes of ancestors whisper on the wind.
Waves welcome; tidal messages greet families whose signatures are etched in this tranquil shoreline.
Rows of history embodied in traditional dwellings.
Generations of Summer stories lie waiting to be shared.
The atmosphere is calm and comforting — even to newcomers.

The pace of life remains a reflection of the attitudes of the inhabitants.
Each morsel of time is savored; each opportunity to relax is enjoyed.
Time stands still on this summer shore.
Children follow paths worn by the footsteps of Great Grandparents.
A Hand-Me Down beach — gently worn, lovingly preserved and graciously shared.

Three Bears Cottage

By Marilyn A. Martell

Meandering moments lead to a vintage vantage point
Quaint cottage perched on a knoll overlooking Shelburne Harbour.
Beach combing…seeking our fortunes in the sand...while deer shadow us…leaving hoof prints as the only hint of their presence.
Sisterly comfort zone — even some unusual silence as we each ponder OUR presence — here in this place.

Three Dollar Day

By Marilyn A. Martell

Tidal pools harbor sea life, on hold until the waves return.
Gulls guard beach boulders, vigilant, silent sentinels.
Sisters search silver-flecked sand — seeking elusive shells.
Memory — making moments melt and mingle.
Meanwhile…silent silver sand dollars lie in waiting — omens of future riches?
Or, perhaps...place-markers of precious time together.
Joyful discovery, concern, competition.
We share everything…or do we?
The best part — being together.
The bonus — a three dollar day!

Peggy’s Cove

By Marilyn A. Martell

Overcast, dull — shades of gray…
Timeless, rhythmical sounds of waves.
Bird calls, fog horns.
Nature’s pulse.
Earth and sky have become one in a distant, white haze.

Rock formations peopled with isolated beings…
Connected by the thin thread of wonder.
Mindful of the company of ghostly souls who shall forever claim this place.

Echoes of earth, water and sky.
Fishing boats purposefully follow their unseen highways.
Weeds and grass defiantly struggle to survive…
Symbols of hope. 


By Marilyn A. Martell

Waves…persistent, endless, froth-capped.
Relentlessly rising from the ocean’s dark breast.
Throbbing purposefully — each one strides forth to caress a single barricade —
a flat, sharp-edged black rock.

Waves — endless formations…
Legions of them rush to the shore.
To be greeted by the cold, silent welcome of the scar-faced cliffs.

Waves — cradling seagulls as they rest from endless excursions.
Bringing forth secrets to share with the shore.
Waves…deposit their signature at the water’s edge.
Each lives briefly, yet leaves its mark, however slight —
Fulfilling its role in the ocean’s plan.

There once was a man from Nantucket

By Scott Wolcott

 There once was a man from Nantucket,
that collected seashells in a bucket.
He'd walk along the sand
with his bucket in hand
and if he found a bad shell he would chuck it.

writing as a path to awakening book

Albert Flynn DeSilver is an internationally published poet and author of several books, including the memoir Beamish Boy and the popular book Writing as a Path to Awakening. He is the founder of Creative Writing Insights, a dynamic online writing community providing coaching, live classes, and an award-winning curriculum. The program helps writers — and people who want to write — go from frustrated, inconsistent scribblers to confident, consistent published authors. Albert has taught poetry in schools for more than a decade, working with thousands of children. He has also served as the first Poet Laureate from Marin County, California. Learn about upcoming special events and resources at www.albertflynndesilver.com/program.

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine March/April 2023 issue.


Hi, Dina! You can grab a copy of the illustration of the winning poem at https://www.fromlucy.com/non-personalised-books/sea-glass-poem-book/

Kirsti December 17, 2023

Where can I buy the book A recipe for sea glass? I love the illustrations ❤️

Dina Orlando-Trosko December 17, 2023

Thank you “sew” much! Just saw my poem above. (I’m a little late to the party here LOL). Appreciate it being printed. Lots of nice entries. Love the magazine and try very hard to keep current. Great job Kirsti and team! :)

Chris Ann Buday May 08, 2023

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