Category Archives: forthcoming in the print Remaking Moby

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.

MD

 

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.

chapter 21. Going Aboard. poem by Elizabeth Schultz. The Pequod’s Crew List.

THE PEQUOD’S CREW LIST

 

The Pequod’s crew list

is motley and familiar,

an Anacharsis Clootz

deputation, including

Ahab, Master, supreme

commander, presiding

over all, superlative

navigator, madman;

the three mates, ordinary

American white guys

with some convictions,

but not enough to change

the direction of a ship of state;

the four famed harpooners,

representing the globe and

diverse heroic possibilities;

men from Spain, Ireland,

England, Denmark, Sicily,

Tahiti, Malta, Holland, China,

France, the Azores, the Isles

of Man, in addition to Pip,

cabin-boy, and Fleece,

cook, black Americans,

both speaking truth to power,

though covertly; plus

Dough-Boy, too innocent,

innocuous, timid and pale,

to be included in discussions,

but going down with the rest,

except for Ishmael, Melville’s

secret sharer, doppelganger,

who knew and loved them all.

A crew list is a ship’s destiny.

chapter 10. A Bosom Friend. poem: El Pajarito Rubio. by Jessica Lizardi.

El Pajarito Rubio

 

Counting thirteen cars in line

by color,

he is Queequeg thumbing

his book.

This deliberately certain regularity

of sequence,

pious patterns and codes only

he knows.

Why isn’t truly why, but more

like when.

When the mean children will meanly stare-

his eyeless soul,

like a little blonde bird flying sideways,

yet straight,

into its own space and purpose.

He is free.

This petite bird, a smallish funny man

who lives

not for his guilty mother, denying the

jack knife,

whittling some kind of idol for her

to worship.

Even I am obsessively organized

for most.

There’s nothing wrong with staring

into space…

Next week they will give my pajarito

Chloral Hydrate.

As he gags they will attach 167 electrodes

to his head.

We are also trying organic, gluten free

casein free

and something-else-free.  I don’t

remember.

He laughs in colors, baila for his papi,

shapes singing,

while I sit on my counter, cross-legged

with Coldplay

trying to write a poem. His language,

bittersweet.

The tongues he sings and recites in,

memorizing

notes, yet communicating with us

syllabically.

These unearthly tattooings that will make

him genuine.

Or perhaps, the new normal, according to

my step-mom.

chapter 9. The Sermon. short fiction by David Rutschman.

Valerie Mapple, 16 years old, driving with no destination through Albuquerque, New Mexico, reflects on the theological assertions of her great-great-great-great-great-great- great uncle on her father’s side . . .

So like if there’s a God and He can see you everywhere, no matter what, even if you’re in the belly of a freakin’ whale, I guess that’s just, I don’t know. But He’s all mad if you don’t do exactly what he wants? But He doesn’t even tell you what He wants?

She stops at a red light, glances in the mirror. She turns right.

I had a picture book of Bible stories, you know, when I was just like a really little kid? My mom and dad got divorced when I was like nine and me and my mom and my sister moved out here, but this was like way before that, when I was like four or something and my sister was seven. She’s in college now. She just went to college and it’s me and Mom and her boyfriend Steve in the apartment, and believe me that is just not enough people. Especially with Steve. If I have to be around Steve I want to be in a big-ass crowd.

She laughs. Another light, and again she turns.

My sister’s going to study anthropology, which Steve says is interesting. Can you believe him?

She changes the station on the radio.

But this book had a picture of Jonah, he’s the one got swallowed by a whale, and then he prays to God and God saves him and I liked the picture fine, I guess. I don’t know, it wasn’t like my favorite or anything. And I did pray, a lot, when we were first moving out here, that we could all just go home. A lot. But then nothing happened . . .

She switches lanes, accelerates past a row of cars.

And then Mom met Steve and my sister left. So there’s that.

She glides up the on-ramp to the interstate.

But you know what? I had a towel back then with a bunch of fish on it. One of those big beach towels? It’s probably still in my closet. All these cartoon fish with bubbles going up from their mouths?

She is driving fast in the left lane, the music loud. She snorts and starts to laugh.

I really liked that towel.

Chapter 4. The Counterpane. a poem. Ed Madden.

Counterpane

(an epithalamion, for Bert)

I wake with counterpane of arm,

thick and warm, across my chest.

 

You’d almost thought I’d been his wife,

the way he hugged me tight, as though

 

naught but death could part us now–

this unbecoming bridegroom clasp,

 

this strip of quilt a sunburnt arm.