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.
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.