1. Santiago says

    I believe in you, Matthew.

  2. Anonymous says

    how’d you take the picture?

  3. Matthew,

    Without comment…

    The Soft Verges

    We struck sail and sank on the soft verges
    Two days later, sighting Easter Island,
    Shipping aboard the aptly named Abel,
    A coal tramp-steamer, her sad fortunes wedged
    Between the Bounty and the Endurance:
    In the mutiny of slayer typhoons
    And the crushing sport of first monsoons,
    She came ashore twisting, keel off balance,
    Her steel hulking in breakers, yanked and dredged
    From shallows of sunrise-crimson coral.
    For months before, a calm sea. Now it surges
    With storm to resurrect Abel’s husk. She lands
    Stranded, shipwrecked, abandoned to herself
    On the shores of salvaged experience
    Where I came to live first, coughed up here just
    Like Jonah, vomit of divine disgust,
    Sole survivor of Abel’s able crew.
    Now poking a broken mop stick among
    Soggy hardtack, my distinctions run aground,
    I pick through Abel’s guts for something to do.
    Counting off months by moons, stocking my shelf
    With seashells for cups and plates, getting along
    With the constant ocean of constant sound
    – The sea and soul both survive land’s innocence.
    The storm and tide usher in good medicines
    Bobbing bottles of booze – whisky elixirs –
    Crates of port from Abel’s hold, regurgitated,
    Ocean’s cluttered patina of back fill,
    Here bruised on the soft verges, stagnated
    Without cure, here where a maiden monster’s tail
    Curls baroque around a map’s compass rose,
    A portent no less strange than plangent crows
    I’ve seen blown off course by a waterspout
    Circling the surf, singing strangely far out
    From land. The star cross of constellations
    Rises, star to alien star, from water
    Where now stare the vacant eyes of drowned shipmates
    Who swell out, full of underachievement.
    Last night’s storm flushed them into the lagoon
    Still in their whites like corporeal heaven.
    They float around, hung fired at its pearled gates
    Awaiting charts for permanent address.
    My own paradise embraces elation:
    The sun sags behind palm’s shade. The winds drowse.
    Sea-grass for my bed and palm tree for house,
    Married to neither, I am love’s maroon.
    Back home my absence is significant
    As stains on an old, flea-blown mattress.
    Here are the soft verges and here am I
    Where latitude and longitude rely
    Less on sextant, more on imagination.
    I take a poke at some drifting flotsam –
    Articles of survival and destruction:
    Soggy rat poison, candles, rum and lye.
    I watch waves bend themselves over spindrift –
    A source of wonder and irritation
    Like diving bell vomit, oyster or clam.
    I take stock of things– including crude beauty
    That oil makes on water, and I sift
    Through images of impulse and combustion.
    The Abel’s hemorrhage slicks the beach with oil
    Springing rainbows from wings of dead seagulls.
    She lists, sand-stuck, matron without her pod
    Chafed to rust and languor, washing up
    After taking all hands but mine, her belly
    Is tomb to the unforgiving bottom.
    I’m neither on the inside or outside
    Living the balance of the hatchway’s lip.
    This island’s address might well be heaven’s spoil
    And I could claim it my own or Abel’s,
    We two vessels with no vestige of valor
    Left here on the verge of courage and fear.

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