Pacific Coast Highway



Robert (Bob) Yen is a third generation American. He practices law in Phoenix as he has for the past 40 years. He is a past recipient of a Swarthout Award for poetry. This is his poem about the Pacific Coast Highway.


Pacific Coast Highway


Ahead, your shoreline cries to me

as it has for ten thousand years, 

calling me through dying forests 

and the perfume of rain on creosote 

to an expedition


in search of something everlasting.


Descending beyond this valley: my mother

clutching her mother; 

my grandfather, father and uncles tall and dark

amidst fields of flowering asparagus,

vanishing into the grey of morning.


I see my wife and children

reflected in the wet sand on which they pass,

framed by trapezoids of sun and surf,

each as light as breath.


Entering your gate, my cheek is wet 

with salt and cypress. The roar of your waves against 

the rocks is immense, your cliffs are as white


and your water as blue as my memory, 

though different.


At night, in this narrow inlet, the ocean

continues its assault,

stars glint off tall cypress,

and wolves bay their lament at a yellow moon

that permanence, if it exists at all,


can never be ours.