I thought of how a whale’s white ribs
Could choke the sky’s blue neck,
Massive vertebrae half-buried in sand,
And how a keel cleaves the sea
While the wind zephyrs canvas to swell
And propel the long black ship toward shore,
Heaven in a blue mussel shell, smooth
As the firmament. I believe there is a place
For old men, in the arms of their loves.
Although Dante put Odysseus in the eighth circle
For deception, both Gods and men, I think,
Underrate his love for Penelope.
Think of the beached skeleton again
And the absence it creates, a neck of sky
On which an ivory choker hangs,
Its central jewels composed of vertebrae
That housed the temple of marrow,
A metaphor for a core if there is one,
Something more necessary than the defenses
We erect to keep from crushing
Each other in the heart or in the head.
A throat of clouds caught in the pincers
Of a whale’s ribs recurs to me,
Like a mead hall with the walls blown out.
At the end of its open tunnel I see a dull sun
Stuck to the smoggy apron of the horizon.
Tomorrow Helios will drive his steeds over
The brown San Bernadinos and down
The cement-gray Los Angeles River,
But my love’s hair is silver and her eyes are green.
(published in Stagger)