New Jersey, or: The diner state

A Cascade poem

Papa & I would go diving at the 'Shore' 
It was illegal for us to pump our own gas
My friends & I hung out at malls & diners
That was my normal; now it's all history

My learning to scuba dive was Papa's idea
I went along with him and was glad I did
We dove in Bermuda, Alaska, & near home
Papa & I would go diving at the 'Shore' 

In Jersey, the beach is called the 'Jersey Shore'
Belmar, NJ was our destination of choice
Gas attendants filled the tank & we'd set off
It was illegal for us to pump our own gas

Growing up in suburbia was not exciting
Scuba diving was a recreational treat
Papa would stab flounder; I was too slow
My friends & I hung out at malls & diners

Children take their realities for granted
Suburbia, shopping malls, highways, diners,
gas station attendants, the Jersey 'Shore'...
That was my normal; now it's all history
“The Whitehouse Diner” Photo
by Aaron Segreaves on

The Sunday Muse

This cascade poem was written for The Sunday Muse #205.


  • Meter: optional;
  • Rhyme: optional;
  • 6 lines or more;
  • Defining feature: line refrain:
    • The lines of the first stanza are repeated as refrain lines in subsequent stanzas to give a “cascading effect”;
    • S1 L1 is repeated as the last line of S2, S1 L2 is repeated as the last line of S3, and so on until all lines in S1 have been used;
    • The number of stanzas is therefore one more than the number of lines in S1.

Muri’s poetry scavenger hunt

My friend Muri (Val) is running a poetry scavenger hunt for Na/GloPoWriMo, which I shall attempt to participate in fully this year.

From what I understand, she’s offering three poetry prompts every week for the duration of the month of April ’22 (on MWF).

Last year, I was pretty busy with my personal micropoetry project so I only responded to several of her poetry challenges, but this year I hope to rectify that!

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

53 thoughts on “New Jersey, or: The diner state”

  1. I know nothing about New Jersey, but your memories are vividly relived in this. And isn’t that the way it goes, the normal we take for granted eventually becomes history. Lovely write, David.

  2. That final stanza is so nostalgic. Sad to think it’s all things of the past. Well encapsulated.

  3. Indeed, children take the world as they find it, and that’s their “normal” sometimes forever and sometimes until they decide to break with it. I broke with much of what I grew up with, but often find myself a little lost in the modern world. I have a lot of nostalgia for certain details of the past, but not for the past itself.

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