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.”
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.