It’s a long story

He might have clung to such rocks as these,

albeit at night and in considerably rougher seas,


the fight for his life making two

out of each clawed and shaking limb (to

paraphrase the immortal simile),


the value of each inch of skin he salvaged

for each that the wave-stropped blades

shore off him –


-the man who came to know so many things,


when all he wanted was a smooth ride home,

going first, as he did, by way of plundering

-not questioning, not yet, the contemporary idiom –


turning, as his numbers failed him, to the tune

of Chance (though full enough of it to proudly wear his name),

then stripped still further by one stray curse,

the course


of brutal happenstance – or otherwise,

unwise choices hastily made and bitterly disowned,

digging deep into the earth’s blind blood for advice,


coming up empty-handed and eventually alone,

after he erased the sun with the smoke of his sacrifice

(an irresistible force, he claims, compelling him to the dance)


consoling himself for lean and insular years with the sight of the horizon

and the questionable blessing of a vivid imagination (seeing,

for instance, the smoke of his father’s farm


rising from a stick of incense; his wife’s almost-forgotten face

in the deepening wrinkles of his palm), until immobility exhausted him

enough to rustle up a modicum of inspiration,


to trust himself to the water again,

with the flimsiest of vessels to hold him up,

a pair of constellations in place of a map


an insubstantial scarf to save him from the storm

that caught and cast him like a knucklebone

to cling to or be shredded by whatever purchase he could find


on the sharpness of these stones.


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