Monday Poem

Two young men greeted a new crew member on a ship’s quarterdeck almost 60 years ago to the day and, in a matter of weeks, by simple challenge, introduced this then 18 year-old who’d never really read a book through, to the lives that can be found in them.  —Thank you A. Gaeta and E. Budde for your life-altering tinkering.

Narragansett —New Year

A night walk to the base library

The bay to my right (my rite of sea and asphalt:
I hold to shoulder, I sail, I walk the line)

the bay moved as I moved, but retrograde
as if the way I moved had something to do

with how the black bay moved
(as if in animation) backward, how it tracked

how it perfectly matched my pace, but
in direction opposed (Albert would have

a formula or two to say about this
if he were here), behind, over shoulder

a steel grey ship at pier transfigured
in cloud of cool white light— a spray

from lamps on tall poles ashore, and aboard
from lamps on mast and yards

among pins of antennae
that gleamed above its raked stack—

an electric cloud, a photon aura edges
feathered into night enveloped it as it lay

upon the shimmering skin of bay,
from here she’s still as the thought

from which she came: upheld steel on water
arrayed in light, heavy as weight, sheer as a bubble,

the line of pier beyond etched clean
as if cut by horizon’s knife

ahead, a library
behind, a ship at night

the bay to my right (as I said) slid dark
as the confluence of all nights

the light of low barracks and high offices
of base ahead spread west and skip off bay

each of its trillion tribulations jittering at lightspeed
fractured by bay’s breeze-moiled black surface in splintered sight

ahead the books I aim to read,
books I’ve come to love since Anthony & Ed

in the generosity of their own fresh enlightenment
teamed to bring bright tools to this greenhorn’s

stymied brain to spring its self-locked latch
to let crisp air in fresh as this breeze —and how

that breeze blew across a bay from where to everywhere
troubling Narragansett from then to me here now!

Jim Culleny