His face looked like an old part of the expressway,
Worn to rolling pockmarked flatness;
His eyes were seams in the asphalt.
A tangle of old nets and seaweed,
His hair tumbled down to his shoulders.
His voice was soft and deep,
The edge of a wave on a gravelly shore.
When he caught my stare, an undulation widened his eyes,
And in there I saw a cannon sun in a coppery sky
Firing blazing pinwheels to a red horizon.
The sea boiled sailors’ blood
And cooked ships’ boards to a splintery stew.
Finger bones groped for freedom from the Sargasso Sea,
Ahab’s obsession rendered to coral edges on oily knuckles.
This modern Poseidon knows huge ships with tiny crews
Wreaking havoc all out of scale to the sea’s revenge.
A hundred and fifty years ago we sent sailors
To drain the oceans of whales to light the Industrial Revolution.
Nowadays when a corporate leviathan loses its way
Or splits an aging seam, we don’t lose sailors’ lives,
But living gets harder for all of us.
Seas and shores suffocate under thick film.
It’s something sailors can’t handle and companies can’t fix;
oil and water, man and the sea, we still don’t mix
in The Falling Wallendas, Tia Church Press, Chicago