Ain’t No Ahab

E. Christopher Clark

When at last scroll unfurls
to the place where I find you,
I read the words
“lost overboard”
and I, the barren branch
at the end of the limb
you stretched outward
until you could scratch the scrim
at the edge of the world—
I go overboard, too.


I imagine a leviathan
hungry for wooden ships and wooden boys
come to swallow you whole and drag you down
to the locker of a Monkee
(the one with the tambourine)
who’d made a daydream believer out of me.


When the blue fairy comes,
I wish a fate for you that’d
make Melville swoon,
roll over in his box,
rise from the wooded lawn of Woodlawn,
and take hold of the first thing he might find
to write with.


I want Herman
in a coffee shop
in the Bronx, sipping
something artisanal
as he scribbles down
words that will matter
about someone who matters to me.


But all you’ve got is right here,
a man with a name no more notable
than it was when you left it to me
(or, rather, to my father, or his father, or
three fathers before he).


All you’ve got are these fingers,
this set of worn-down keys,
bone-white and battered
as you must have been
when you stumbled into the sea,
leaving the schooner behind
for L'Attila dei pesci e dei pescatori.


Except that there was no terrible dogfish
for you, not even Walt’s little Monstro.
You fell asleep at the wheel,
like I did,
driving home with nine inch nails
through each of my eye lids,
only you weren’t as lucky.


Then again: maybe neither of us were.
Maybe if there were blood upon the wall I hit
or on the waves you slipped beneath,
maybe then there’d be a tale
the world could marvel at,
the way that we


marvel at a fluke at sunset,
at a whale holding itself high to
say arrivederci.






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