it's poetry month

Reading Moby-Dick at 30,000

At this height, Kansas
is just a concept,
a checkerboard design of wheat and corn

no larger than the foldout section
of my neighbor's travel magazine.
At this stage of the journey

I would estimate the distance
between myself and my own feelings
is roughly the same as the mileage

from Seattle to New York,
so I can lean back into the upholstered interval
between Muzak and lunch,

a little bored, a little old and strange.
I remember, as a dreamy
backyard kind of kid,

tilting up my head to watch
those planes engrave the sky
in lines so steady and so straight

they implied the enormous concentration
of good men,
but now my eyes flicker

from the in-flight movie
to the stewardess's pantyline,
then back into my book,

where men throw harpoons at something
much bigger and probably
better than themselves,

wanting to kill it,
wanting to see great clouds of blood erupt
to prove that they exist.

Imagine being born and growing up,
rushing through the world for sixty years
at unimaginable speeds.

Imagine a century like a room so large,
a corridor so long
you could travel for a lifetime

and never find the door,
until you had forgotten
that such a thing as doors exist.

Better to be on board the Pequod,
with a mad one-legged captain
living for revenge.

Better to feel the salt wind
spitting in your face,
to hold your sharpened weapon high,

to see the glisten
of the beast beneath the waves.
What a relief it would be

to hear someone in the crew
cry out like a gull,
Oh Captain, Captain!
Where are we going now?

Tony Hoagland


Jen said…
Britain's poet laureate wrote a poem inspired by the volcano ash yesterday, it's simple but I like the thought I've been hearing what Shakespeare heard:


Five miles up the hush and shush of ash,

Yet the sky is as clean as a white slate —

I could write my childhood there.

Selfish to sit in this garden, listening to the past

(A gentleman bee wooing its flower, a lawnmower)

When the grounded planes mean ruined plans,

Holidays on hold, sore absences at weddings, funerals ... wingless commerce.

But Britain’s birds sing in this spring

From Inverness to Liverpool, from Creith to Cardiff,

Oxford, Londontown, Land’s End to John O’Groats.

The music’s silent summons,

That Shakespeare heard and Edward Thomas and, briefly, us.
KPB said…
Poetry month? OH GOD HELP ME.
Crazy Mom! said…
Lovely. I may post one of my favs - I'm a G M Hopkins fan

(HA! the verification word is CURSE! Appropriate for Moby Dick! My name is Ahab...)
Anonymous said…
I like that. From Seattle to New York.

Amy A. said…
jbhat just made my comment. That must resonate with a lot of us.
Paola said…
I was trying to think of something cool to comment and then, I read Kim's comment.
Can't stop laughing.
Anonymous said…
HOW do the good poets do that? So brilliant.
tut-tut said…
makes me think . . . how are you, anyway?