Ahab

See how his arms stretch back,

riding the gunwales like the wings of

an archangel, excoriated, exfoliated

by briny falling, salty sloughing

surf — and worse, wings left to shake

dry in the creaking, leaking galleys

only occupied by men who slake

their landlust once in alleys

every three-four-five years.

He is their captain. Their God

who lurks in the shadows, hears

tongues only known in his Pequod.

Forty years, child’s tears, all disappears

in the rocking, tipping rigging of the ship —

his humanity shattered, scattered against

the plane of the sea, that altar

he knows better than we deem feasible

he courses with unholy forces along its

surface, squeezes sails like corsets.

Years have morphed him into a new

race, one whose home is

in the alluvion, the oblivion of quarter millions.

The wind that sends is his shield, his cloak, his cape.

He’s married it and tarried, buried his bones.

Each day a new baptism in the schism between

immortal purpose and mortal service.

He sounds death long as he glides along,

slapping surf and tapping earth,

and his hull smashes waves like glasses.

As he beats his pegleg against the hull

like a stretched drum skin, the Leviathan must hush,

terrified by the lance tip.

Ahab.

the name itself echoes like

the sharp beast’s howl when

the wolf fangs sink in its flank

and spread its hot blood across the snow.