Monthly Archives: August 2013

chapter 30. The Pipe. fiction, “The Cigar,” by Sam Mills.

The Cigar

[Based on Chapter 30: The Pipe]



Abe paced the weathered cedar deck behind his house, big shot of bourbon in hand and a big cigar nestled in his robe’s breast pocket.

“Hon, where’s my deck chair?”

Rose answered from the kitchen, through the open glass door.

“Right where you left it last fall, shithead–in the shed.”

Abe shuffled to the shed, unlocked it, and entered its musty darkness. Behind the wheelbarrow and next to the shovels he found the folding deck chair; dusty, worn teak. It had been expensive when he bought it, but it went with the deck. The chair completed him at the time; successful, wealthy, the owner of several Cadillac dealerships in the northwest, and the only dealer that sold the Cadillac Leviathan–an insanely huge, luxurious and expensive automobile that was a hot commodity in its time, for those who could afford it. When the economy tanked years later, so did sales, and his dealerships folded one after another in its wake.

Abe took hold of the deck chair, yanked it up and dragged it out to the deck. He could still unfold it with one flip, but it was heavier than he remembered. It was as weathered as the deck; he’d left it out for two winters, and it showed.

Settling into the chair’s worn curve, he took another sip of the four fingers of bourbon he’d poured earlier, set the glass on the deck and lit his cigar. He took a big drag from it, exhaled—and the wind blew it back into his face, stinging his eyes.

“Shit,” he said to himself. “I used to face the other way. Those sales parties, all the salespeople on the deck and me in this chair, a cigar and a drink….” He looked at the cigar. “It’s not the same anymore.”

He crushed the cigar out on the arm of the chair and picked up his drink. He looked at the amber fluid, paused, then threw his drink across the lawn.

chapter 28. Ahab. a poem, “MD,” by Linda Lee Harper.



A step away from the fear that licks at his sweat even as it generates it, this last sighting for most men might feel like a kiss as a prelude to flight, but not my captain who dwells in the brave forests of great advantage, endowed with the conviction of the hopelessly lost convinced they
are holy touchstone, lofty as the fingerprints of gods on stars.

Captain claims no prescience, no final vision comprehensive as skies, or as inevitable as deceit, his vengeance bound like a staff to iron prongs

ship-bound, air-flung, sea-caught, flesh-trapped, well-thrown.
What feeds the rest of us, so long adrift in his slogged and constant
struggle with the demons who gather at first light across his brow,
across our bow, ever shifts in the winds of his delusions, determinations.

We hold to what we know keeps us afloat. As long as he lives, hobbled but
propped up with the clarity of his revenge, we serve as best we can, each to his station, each to his own god, the ones swimming around the moon, the ones flying through the deep caverns of watery fens where stars go to die, where what rises steals light, wears it like a mask, rises like a blanched demon with the taste for one man, our man, the one we’ll follow to wherever the kill reaps success, reaps what he needs, a profit incalculable as devotion, as inexplicable as desires unchecked, named.

chapter 28. Ahab. poem, “some Thoughts on Ahab,” by Ed Hunt.

Some thoughts on Ahab


The good captain was one in a line.
Ignoring prophecy, defying the fate
of hemp and hearse said by his mate,
With nothing to show but silence and chyme.

The random arrow, the queen thrown from the room,
Phoenician prophets killed when they lost the game.
Fate mixed with pride cannot be tamed.
The whale was the same: a thing of mockery and doom.

Northern Kings not being loyal.
A blind Greek king marrying his mother.
Hamlet, defying augury, though royal.
An Emperor humiliated for ignoring Russian weather.

Exiled to watery oblivion;
Killed by their own ambition.

chapter 28. Ahab. fiction excerpt, “The Captain,” from a novel by Kim Paffenroth

(from a longer chapter to be printed in full in Remaking Moby-Dick)


“Ah, you’re right, as always, my friend. Don’t get so upset, and I’ll try not to, either. It’s in my blood, I’m sorry. You know me too well, and I know you. And now we’ve met this young fellow, and he’s beginning to learn about us. You know something, King? You complete me, in a way. I need you around, to say all those awful, pious, faithful things that drive me crazy. But you know what that might mean? It might mean that I complete you. Do you think you could admit that?”

“I could, Captain. I’d be proud to, in fact. I know what all you’ve been through. I got no problems with the way you are, and I got no problems listening to you, so long as you don’t get too angry.”

“So accepting…” the captain said as he turned away. “I’ll never understand why you’re so accepting, or why I overlook your many and obvious errors. It’s a strange thing.” He waved his good left hand over his head at them as he walked away. “Now make more sail. We have dead people to relieve of their worthless lives and their valuable goods. And perhaps something else this trip. Perhaps. I’ve heard things lately. I’ll think more about them and get back to you.”

Ridley watched Jacob retreat to the other side of the boat. “Like I said,” King said quietly next to Ridley, “thinks too much about stuff. Makes him a little too high strung.”

“Yeah,” Ridley said. Reaching to untie a line from a cleat, he put his hand on a skull hanging next to it, and took a minute to run his hand over the bone, appreciating the smooth, dry texture. “Cares too much, is more like it.”

chapter 24. The Advocate. a poem by Jose Padua.

The Advocate (Moby Dick – Chapter 24)

Would you love me somewhat more if I’d gone to Harvard or Yale
and wore a black vest
over a slim frame to match

the slightly drooping eyes
upon a face with complexion
more on the pale side?
Were I not a whaler would you stand with me more proudly at social events,
soirees where men and women
waltz then sip their drinks
or else engage in conversations
in which they discuss the world’s events
with sophistication
in tones that bounce and ring upon the walls
like static in the air so exquisitely?
Yet a whaler is what I am,
hunting down greater water mammals
with their meat and oil
for your daily use in the boudoir
and as margarine for your bread
and to light the lamps
we blow out when it’s late
and we’re too tired to read
and it’s time to undress and go to bed.
Would that I were suave and working
in the world of finance and the selling
and trading of shares but
may I
remind you that my livelihood
is not made down in the dirt
but on the seas
and that the essence of my blood
is as royal as the ocean is deep.
Let us then take our time tonight
going to sleep upon these white sheets.
Let our love be protracted.
Let us prosper.