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written of a dusk

the black ship
black hull
white cabin
a small freighter
anchored on
the lull
the accordion of
sky in ripple and
wave in an
inner harbour
seeing its
name, in straight
up letters the ‘Ulysses’*
what fool would
name a craft
after a flagrant
wanderer a man
who could shoot
an arrow
at nothing
yet lose it in
the next world
beyond the ditch
let this ship
steer clear
of his command
clear of storm,
keep on
the plotted
path the safe
drawing of a
mermaid and
ocean of soundings
figures on a slant
or i foresee
wretched years
for the crew lost
to a drunken fall
like Elpenor*
lost to a siren
in platform heels,
lost between
the beer the sweat
and brown hips
the beast* running
far with them
running them
far from the ship
the black hull
fast under the
captain’s eye
heartless as sun
a ship that
even if they
made it back to,
the deck of
reef and cloud
the long lines
to be taken
up and put away
shorn of dreams,
would never
see them home,
endless journey
burning in them
like an offering
of fresh kill,
meat smoking
out the soul
with dusk.

feburary 15-18, 2012
auckland viaduct harbour

*Latin version of the Greek name ‘Odysseus’

*allusion to the sorceress Circe, who changed many of Odysseus’s crew to beasts. Refer also to the George Seferis poem cycle, ‘The Arognauts’.

*One of the young crew of Odysseus’s ship. Seferis makes Elpenor and his fall the subject of one of the poems in the cycle.


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