Monthly Archives: August 2013

chapter 50. Ahab’s Boat and Crew. Fedallah. remade by Malaika Favorite.


Malaika Favorite


The tell-tale swung from the beam in the ceiling.

The tale we must tell swung in our hearts

as days marched past weeks to the Azores,

Cape de Verdes, Rio de la Plata, St Helena.

The tale we must tell swung from the beam

where the ocean met the land and swung back

to Cape de Verdes. The tale untold sold us

our silver, took in our gold and goaded us on

to the Azores, there she blows to Cape de Verdes.

Captain tell us your tale as the tell-tale announces

the desire of moon and the stunsail spread.

Take the helm, climb the main-mast head

where the tell-tale hangs as the moon in heaven.

And around our necks the shuddering wind,

a wind that speaks to men in one language

and to whales in another, we each in our own way answer.

The whales reply with a silvery jet of bubbles.

The men with a shivering cry of shifting sails

longitudes and latitudes, and the moon back-lit night.

The tell-tale shifting as the sea-ravens perched

on our stays, and clung to our hemp the new crew

come to replace us the almost living.

Cape of Good Hope grant us aspiration

that we may pretend ourselves fish and swim

with the sea to seek consultation on a blue-black horizon.

As our captain meditates on the tell-tale compass,

and we ruminate on the unseen spirit-spout

spouting out our dreams and delusions;

Somewhere beyond Cape de Verdes, Rio de la Plata

Carrol Ground, St Helena the blue-black night.



chapter 47. The Mat-Maker. remade by Jon Steinhagen.


By Jon Steinhagen

We do what we’ve been doing for a few hours when I say to him “It just occurred to me that this weaving, requiring two, is actually ‘we’ve-ing,’ because ‘we’ve’ been at it now for a few hours and probably could be at it for a few more hours. It also occurred to me that everything we do is a repeat action. Back and forth, countless times, to produce a finished product. Not, perhaps, countless time; if we start again or when we start a new one, I could keep count of the back and forths and then we’d know how many of them make up what we will have. We’re doing this, we’ve been doing this, back and forth, we’re used to it, the motions, you look out at something and I look out at something, both of us looks away from the work at hand for a

brief period, but not at the same time, and that looking away we’ve been doing is, I think, our way of following our thoughts, as if to suggest our thoughts aren’t always on the work at hand and the ones that aren’t manage, somehow, to flutter off into the wind, and we watch as they escape. And what are those fluttering thoughts? Anything and everything. It’s impossible for me to know what you are thinking at any given moment, especially since you never say much at all, and that’s possibly because I say a great deal about what I’m thinking, observing, feeling…why is that? That is a thought, too, a thought that will drift away, because there are a hundred answers for the question or possibly only one. Or none. There is no answer. Or there is no reason to answer it.”

On we go. I say “What we’ve been doing is, if you think of it one way – the way I’m about to tell you – killing time. Yes, I admit that what we’re working on will be useful, to some degree, when it’s finished, but it isn’t exactly a necessary thing. We could live without out it. I think that could be said about any repetitive task. Don’t you? We’ve been engaged in one thing, those over there are engaged in another, those we’ve never met are engaged in yet another – all around, repetitive tasks, each designed to create something from nothing, a bigger picture, if you will, made up of repeated actions. And I said we’ve been killing time, but in a way we’ve also been creating time, too, of our particular design, because the way you’re handling your part of the creation is a bit erratic – I’m not criticizing you – I’m sticking to a fairly traditional methodology in the sense that I’m also reacting to the way you’re handling things, and so while you and I know how this is supposed to come out, we’re going about it in different ways, repeating actions but slightly varying each action in response to each other, variations upon variations that have, however, a structure imposed upon them, because we didn’t embark upon this particular task with no design or purpose in mind; no, we knew what we wanted to end up with and we went about it in the way we knew how, and eventually we’ll be done.”

He continues, I continue. I say “What we’re doing is waiting for something else, another event, something bigger, something we’ve been anticipating or told to anticipate. That’s the ultimate goal of the work, I think – it’s a way to stay occupied until the bigger something happens. And it may not happen, true. But there’s a possibility it could, or so we’ve been told, and so why not believe it or, if belief is too strong for you, why not play along or have enough curiosity to see if it will happen? If it comes or not, at least we’ll have something to show for it. Again, this is time, and this is chance, and in a way it’s also choice, because we could choose to do what we do or we could choose to not do it. Not unlike the way I’m choosing to follow your erratic style of endeavor within the rigid framework of the product we’ve set out to create. And of the three, time, chance, and choice, I’d say time is the greatest, as it’s only a matter of time before someone else – someone not engaged in what we, specifically, are doing, but someone engaged in looking out for the bigger something – it’s only a matter of time before that someone else tells us what is next.”

We continue. Someone else tells us something bigger is upon us.
We stop what we’re doing.
I say “We’ve not finished what we’ve been doing, but that doesn’t matter now, does it?

We will either return to it later or not at all. What we’ve got now is a different set of tasks to attend to, tasks that are also repeated actions, actions that we don’t make as often as the ones on which we were so recently employed, but that’s because we’ve been working on the smaller picture, and the bigger thing requires broader gestures performed by more than two people, which means that you and I are now going to be part of a larger effort requiring everyone here or at least everyone who has knowledge of the things that go into achieving what it is we want to do, and we only want to do it because someone else has made us believe that it’s something we want, and what has made that someone else want the bigger thing? Where did the wanting begin?”

We see the something that is something bigger. We fall to action. We’ve been prepared.

chapter 42. The Whiteness of the Whale. remade as a poem. Michael Lythgoe.

Michael Lythgoe


On Melville’s White Chapter In Moby Dick

…Lima has taken the white veil; and there is a higher horror in this whiteness of her woe. –-Herman Melville


Every hunter tracks his obsession.

I once was a sailor who learned the sea

is rituals & knots. To survive was my compulsion–

to listen, to read the harpoonist’s skin, study

Queequeg’s tattoos like a nautical chart;

I was blind; Ahab’s goal was not oil.

Jonah prayed as prey–swallowed by the dark.

Our predator sought vengeance the color of wool:

A white battering ram; whale as holy

Sepulcher, sacred buffalo, albino

Flame, a ghostly hole, albatross–ivory,

Not ebony. Ahab’s dreams wore a marble

Pallor; like Lucifer he hunts his  prey.

Lucifer’s peg-leg broke in breakers today.

chapter 42. The Whiteness of the Whale. remade as a poem. Mary Bast.

Despair of Whiteness 

In marbles, japonicas, pearls,
royal preeminence in hue,
ascriptions of dominion,
even  joy – innocence of brides,
benignity of age, in higher mysteries
the white forked flame held holiest
on the altar, Jove himself a white
bull, associations sweet, sublime. 

Yet lurks the innermost idea, the thought
of whiteness striking panic, not
the fierce-fanged tiger in heraldic coat
so staggers courage as bear shrouded
in fleece of innocence, white shark’s gliding
ghostliness, The albatross, a regal,
feathery thing – inexpressible, strange eyes –
cries in supernatural distress. 

The quality in aspect of the dead
which most appals – lingering marble pallor,
the shroud –  we throw the same mantle
round our phantoms. This thing of whiteness
exerts sorcery: Whitsuntide marshals
processions of pilgrims, down-cast,
hooded with snow, a White Nun
evokes an eyeless statue in the soul. 

Tearless Lima, the saddest city, has taken
the white veil, spread over her broken ramparts
the rigid pallor that fixes its own distortions.
The mariner, called from hammock, sailing
through midnight sea, feels a superstitious
dread, shivering, half shipwrecked, views
what seems a boundless churchyard grinning
with its splintered crosses, lean ice monuments. 

Behold instinct of demonism in the world:
muffled rollings of milky sea, bleak
frosts of mountains, desolate prairies
all formed in fright. Incantation of whiteness
with strange, portentous power
stabs us with thought of annihilation.

White the absence of colour, a dumb
blankness full of meaning. All other earthly hues –
sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods – 
but subtle deceits laid on from without.
Nature paints like the harlot whose allurements
cover nothing but the charnel-house within. 

chapter 42. The Whiteness of the Whale. remade as a poem by Leslie Anne McIlroy.

The White Poem or What To Read at the Chapel

Leslie Anne McIlroy

Oh bride, oh bride, oh bride of the cloud’s veil, so many kinds of white you wear. I am painting the walls in the big white room where the rats live through the experiment, eggs neatly nested, and the men, too, wear white shoes. I am the whale, belly up, shining, buffing the tongue. Oh linen, oh vanilla, oh pearl, what color the lie, the sheets? The blood is always red, the bad girl in white patent leather and the good, magnolia/corn silk/seashell — ghost. The factory is white and all the little brides are crying, lamb lost in the salt mill, the tiny distances/betrayals/deceits, Lanikai sand, and in the end, the cake/flesh/garter, the spotlight following the groom’s feet as he moves, 1-2-3, the child’s breath as she sleeps, rice swollen in the dove’s belly, the pillow/promise/paper, the ring of bone, the teeth.