My Moby

I’m a poor man, born to riches unearned

And fate unasked; to years unsubtle, burnt

With the burden of dreams imposed by

Thousands that dream asame because we live

Asame: under a sky that tightens daily.

When I read from classics I wish after

Times that never were, when a body could

Focus a whole life through on one throw

One thrust of metal into wild power;

One heroic show of futile might.

There are no great beasts left worth the fight,

Nor were there ever such that we imagine

Equal to proving the span of a life; this

Is the cry that comes back and back to me

From the dead written mouths of generations.

It is a life; it is a life commonly written:

Throwing your harpoon with all your might

To strike the running monster beneath your tiny feet;

The nameless monster with more names

Than breaths given upon the Earth.

And each dreams wrongly, thinking:

“I want my beast to surface

Break smooth plumes into the sky

A great sunless eye peel back its lids and fix

Its hunter with a moonlit gaze.”

And then?

We must sink out of air,

Out of mind into deep dark arms.

To leave wood broken, days less than they were.

For after the surfacing, the story,

The hero, the purpose—ends.

The number of weapons thrown,

That’s one way to measure a life.

That’s one thing to hold onto after life.

How well was the battle fought?

Ask the children above the casket.

Ah, but how valiant—noble—the defeat;

That’s why the casting counts

The ferocity, the hopeful

Trajectory of a thing made hard and unforgiving

And the throwing arm honed, the mind ready.

Afterward, count the wounds I have given,

Places where the hide is torn;

Take note, when the deadly doors open

To usher me through.

When I am through.

My Moby is out there somewhere

Inside, in the endless stretches

That dead letters deepened

In place of land to sail to;

In place of an idea to stand on.

So I imagine a storm, to cloud the horizon

I imagine evil, to give me honour

I imagine gold, to give me measure

I imagine a beast, to give me struggle

And I imagine battle; dream the mythic beast dead.

So we write novels and sing love songs

Like this one is a love song

To the struggle, poetic, that shapes

A life under narrowing sky

In the company of the greatly departed.

To try remember choices with romance

That was absent when they were taken;

To try forget the looming defeat

And feel the last vital beat

Echoing into growing silence.

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