Monday Poem

Two young men greeted a new crew member on a ship’s quarterdeck 60 years ago and, in a matter of weeks, by simple challenge, introduced this then 18 year-old who’d never really read a book through to the lives that can be found in them.… —Thank you Anthony Gaeta and Edmund Budde for your life-altering input.

An Evening Narragansett Walk to the Base Library

bay to my right (my rite of road and sea:
I hold to shoulder, I sail, I walk the line)

the bay moved as I moved, but in retrograde
as if the way I moved had something to do
with the way the black bay moved, how it tracked,
how perfectly it matched my pace, but
slipping behind, opposed, relative
(Albert would have a formula or two
to spin about this if he were here)
behind too, over shoulder, my steel grey ship at pier
transfigured in cloud of cool white light,
a spray from lamps on tall poles ashore
and aboard from lamps on mast and yards
among needles of antennae which gleamed
above its raked stack in electric cloud enmeshed
in photon aura, its edges feathered into night,
luminescent as it lay upon the shimmering skin of bay

from here, she’s as still as the thought from which she came:
upheld steel on water arrayed in light, heavy as weight,
sheer as a bubble, line of pier behind etched clean,
keen as a horizon knife

library ahead —behind
a ship at night

the bay to my right (as I said) slid dark
at the confluence of all nights,
the lights of low barracks and high offices
of the base ahead all aimed west, skipped off bay,
each of its trillion tribulations jittering at lightspeed
fractured by bay’s breeze-moiled black surface
in splintered sight

ahead the books I aimed to read,
books I’d come to love since Tony & Ed
in the generosity of their own fresh enlightenment
had teamed to bring bright tools to this greenhorn’s
stymied brain to spring its self-locked latch
to let some fresh air in crisp as this breeze
blowing ‘cross the bay from where to everywhere,
troubling Narragansett from then
to me here now

Jim Culleny
12/16/19

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