Months have creaked out of planks
into weathered knots worn slack ’round the mast
out of water skins poured empty
into fish nets dried stuffed.
The wind that claws my matted white hair
does naught to untangle the many suns
satisfied to rustle at my haggard tunic.
The sails lull and cave backwards. I tie them up
but the lonely ocean is drawing me
as strong as river’s current revealing
between the downhill sloping waves
where legends say is a monster
pinning the world’s westernmost corner
swallowing down the seas
heaving with inhalation;
his wild boar body black as sin,
roaming eyes red as the devil below.
I’m streaming towards his reptile mouth.
His webbed claws shovel the flood,
in eternal thirst, past his mountainous jaws.
My gaze follows a hawk leaving her nest perched in a crag of a tooth.
Steam wafts from his nostrils into clouds
to darken the earth and hide Man from God.
My long white beard blows up into my face
with the sudden surge of his hot breath.
His snout eclipses the sun.
I stare up at it in darkness.
I’m lurched forward over the breaking froth
that thins to green over his gums.
The rushing water swirls in his throat
and the sunlight is swallowed behind me.
His velvet cathedral rood above
goes on for uncountable leagues.
I drift through arches upon arches, narrowing.
Spots of consumption eat gothic ribs.
Gashes seep out trickles of blood.
But, strange to see, there is sunlight
beyond the tunnel of his gullet.
I think back to when I was a fish
on the beach with its gills flapping
while the tail was skeleton.
This whale-monster suffers likewise;
from the tail, the body shrivels away
until holes leave rotted flesh flapping open to the sky.
Black birds infest the hollowed gaps
chewed wide by feasting flocks of silhouettes.
The disease gnaws to white bones,
then white bones licked dry by Wind and Ocean.
As my boat floats on,
he who swallows the sea is now
only a broken ivory canopy above
interrupting the sunlight.
The eternal decay will devour his body
for millennia, engulfing the head.
The beast will dies; the world will end.
Ribs crack into splinters to the spine’s end.
I tie a frayed rope to a shattered vertebra;
beyond, unsteady water suspends
The sun dips over me close enough
to see its surface, covered by
a bright swarm of intertwined snakes
hissing out unbearable venom over the earth
to scorch the Sons of Men.
It gives the sea’s dimples a yellow kiss
and drowns into the water’s darkness.
I outstretch to feel the strange waters
washing into the waves of the firmament,
chilling through my dirty palms.
It is darkened water that falls upwards
like rain from the seas of Earth,
droplets breaking to an icicle mist.
Sky was air and ocean was water
but now the ocean is air and
the whole sky can be sailed upon.
I cut loose into the drawing tide
and row through the inside curve
of the crescent moon close enough
to break off a moldy chunk.
Its cheese is sweet like I have eaten
times and times before on stale bread
in the village of my boyhood days.
Only speck of white embers
in the misty blackened oceans;
one small spill of color
pours from a distant cloud off starboard.
I row my oars. Sideways
against the current
my heaving chest
the air thins
“When I get older…”