He hoists the hem of her skirt way up, like he does them sails when he’s anchored and angling;
Earnest is still on the hook for that swordfish, size of a canoe, but it will never be the same, she ain’t coming back, after the first time he lost her. You’ll recall the way he mentioned her wingspan, like he was breaking the spirit of an angel, not so much to hitch a ride to heaven as for a way to break out of hell.
He claims he isn’t tired, but he feels exhausted, won’t sleep because he might never wake up again,
and heads back to a place the beer is kept cold, served by the youngest daughter of an old man, living to brag on the conquests Earnest hauled to shore and passed around for free to keep his audience from starving.
The boys encourage him, sacrificing UNICEF school supplies to pitch in for his paper and pencils. “Say what happened, Cap.” They nudge.
He lets the boys pour saltwater over his refusals to let go, over his reeling wounded hands, worn out and torn like leather weather beaten gloves, barely able to hold them donated pencils, he apologizes, but they won’t take no for an answer.
When Earnest is good and ready he writes a letter; says he doesn’t blame his partner for the loss even though the wrong line was cut so that Earnest had nothing to show for it. He could tell his partner felt awful sorry and that was good enough for him, that he’d done all he could and it could happen to anybody under an unforgiving sun, where a feel for the water, doesn’t equal trust.
She yanks the hem of her skirt down, and her face reminds Earnest of where she’s been for the last twenty years. Not with him.
your saints. They are survival shanties about missed harpoons and why whales only sing their blues among the nonchalance of drifters. . .
Row Your Boat
Maybe next one’s gonna deal me a hangman and get me the hell outta this…
* * *
Third time’s a charm. Seeker in the ether.
One of the argonauts. The
wildcard suspended from a
hawser; a drunken
the ferryman. And wait…
There’s a song churning on
Seen a man slightly dark for the work he done and the brim of his hat and his beard. Turbulent eyes glowed golden-green and amber-honey chestnut and then still got called hazel.
Kind of carmelized sugar girls go ga-ga for,
tumble into hungry and drown.
He brewed stormy until he smiled and light broke through his ominous cover of clouds.
“He used to be the Captain
he works the ferry now.” Reported a newspaper man.
“He’s still the Captain, but
he’s works the ferry for
now.” Said a crewman.
“He smelled of constant whiskey intake. Sweated it. Hurt for it.” Witnessed a barmaid.
He sang, “I will be an organ donor for the wind
and so forever breathe into you–” Reminisced a connoisseur…
Body and soul is an ark set to drift…
and I am the captain of my soul set to row…
O’ Captain! My Captain!
(the captain is dead on the deck)
for the ferryman
and reward him for the show
that guiding light
through black and the fog
the rudder hung up on bog
The casting nets and
this- a shelled Venus
so polished well
comforted into bead strung noose
Hoist with Necklace Ahoy!
Then Necklace Away!
flesh into sails
pushing forward the voyage…
“He’s a minstrel at heart.” Chimed a poet, “With high seas to embellish his story.
A tyrant’s command– when to swab or swoon and then he would have us weep.
Led over his tales of woe–
How we go, some little worried mothers.
And he he will play us all Home Sweet Home–
dancing on the Devil’s grave.”
So a soothsayer said, “Taking one– to know one.”
“How I died in his arms.” The poet lamented.
“Life boat to death shuttle–
There is a message in the bottle.” Sang the Argonaut disguised as a ferryman.
He took a swig of whiskey and belched. “Bring in the dancing girl and have you met my wife?”
“You in me now. Part of my DNA. Is that a website?” Screamed Hope.
There was this loneliness and this reaching out and this imagination and art became reckless when it showed off and admitted it’s voyeur and theft and it opened to be misinterpreted or reinterpreted and basically co-opted for communion. Is anybody out there? I love you. All to be rejected, at the expense of my chemicals, I love you.
His songs use to be filled with elbow rests and white knuckling and not enough Jack to tune out Cracklin’ Rosie which he swore made his ears bleed; and he’d sit there bleeding in his window seat, not wanting.
He felt full of holes and sensitive to any comments; every comment made about the condition of his clothes, or the way he carried moths around with him, proving to His self he was the flame if not the utilitarian wool that attracted them.
He had a wife that told him how he keeps an extra set of hands close to his mouth; and what he calls tusks are really just the arms he pulled off a baby-doll. He liked that about his wife, the way she cussed at him in private so he could sing about her in public and he told everybody they don’t have to respect how she takes her glasses off so she never looks at them directly, they just needed to accept it.
When a stewardess asked him if he’d like a pillow, he stopped jiggling his knee under the seat-tray. He ordered another jigger, no ice, and told her, he can’t sleep up in the air, or most nights, and that sometimes he thinks he can fly like a car lighter left in a parking lot, sparking on oil and paper and pigeons; something always sets him off and then he changes the subject. Maybe he’d write a song about her if she told him her name. . .
even though he could barely look her in the eye.
He confided to a stewardess, how people either saw him as a shipwreck or a monster, some giant octopus masking and camouflaging, while he hunted, appearing suddenly to spill his ink and wrap around the hull.
He lamented how they never did consider that he might actually be the ocean itself, all the sneaker waves and riptides, the whirlpools and tsunamis, swallowing the shore, and joining with fresh water rivers that inherently take the paths of least resistance by filling up every crevice and flowing on.
There were only ever a few sirens that got to him, he admitted, but he’d never remember them in the morning.
He peeked up to glimpse her reaction from behind the drink cart and the stewardess quickly pointed out all of the emergency exits.
“Bigmouth Strikes Again” written by Morrissey, Johnny Marr
WMG (on behalf of Warner Strategic Marketing UK); PEDL, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, UMPG Publishing, Warner Chappell, LatinAutor – UMPG, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc., LatinAutor, LatinAutor – Warner Chappell, UMPI, CMRRA, and 11 Music Rights Societies
Grey Rock liked to notice the white women. It wasn’t just that he couldn’t help notice them; he liked to notice them. It was a registry of what he considered their flaws, the first and foremost being, that they were white. He subconsciously established his pattern of interest in the white women and convinced himself that what he recorded about them in unsurprising snapshots was truly of no interest to him, excepting to reenforce the distance he felt from them. Or maybe it was the distance he felt for them. Anyhow, he liked to note his distant interest. His way of observing them, while knowing about them and what kept them separate from him, were his excuses for his defensiveness. He wanted you to know it was emotionally charged for him, but he’d been taught quietness and so he kept his words generalized and in general agreement with the others.
Grey Rock liked to see where the white women were denied. Where they were awkward. Where they didn’t fit in. He liked to imagine them wanting him, wanting into this ~his world and he liked that he knew, before ever laying his eyes on any of them, that he’d never be open to them. They were all tourists as far as he was concerned and although he might allow them to give him their money, he’d keep a tight business clock and refuse overtime. In fact, he’d reserve his right to leave the “Gone Fishin’” sign up indefinitely. He’d make it a point not to post warnings to any unattended cars left in the parking lot about locking their gas caps. He’d gladly leave the white women stranded on empty so his buddy, Yellow Coyote, could muster up some revenue for his tow-truck.
Grey Rock noticed the long blond braid on the white woman who wanted to take selfies with Salmon Woman. He noticed the zipper and velour of a salmon colored leisure suit that was worn by the white woman losing at pick-up sticks and drinking mimosas in the casino. He noticed the lavender aerobic shoes and the green sun-visor, the white bikini and the suntan lotion that he reasonably distinguished from sun-screen by noticing the color of the white woman’s long bronzed legs. He noticed the white women’s gestures as begging for his attention. The way they posed, asked for it. He noticed their hair and however they fussed over it and he noticed what was tight or scantily clad about their clothing, but if push came to shove, he never would be able to pick out their faces in a line up. They had sunglasses, but no faces. They wore lipstick, but had nothing to say. They were called the white women, but they had no names.
He liked noticing these things about the white women.
This was the distance he wanted them to know about, the distance that he would say behind their backs, that would finally get back to them.
Grey Rock knew the rich white women from the city were impressed by his brother, who rode the bull in rodeo. He watched them being trophied around, meant to be worn on each arm like a pair of expensive cufflinks, a temporary risk worth taking and bluffing over, before gambling them away in a game of poker. He noticed how it didn’t take many drinks before the white women agreed to be cufflinks on some other bull-rider’s arms. He noticed the white women grant lap dances like they were playing musical chairs until there were no chairs left.
Grey Rock liked the expressions used by the Old Timer when he wanted everyone to move aside and make way for him. For example, “…long before you were tugging at your mother’s tit,” was the line that often followed the bravado and boast of something the Old Timer had “mastered” and would be schooling you on. It always drew grins from the younger men who tried to pull rank on him. Reducing them to infants while conjuring tits was considered verbal shivving with a salty crust. Grey Rock learned early on that real men love jerked meat no matter how bad it is for them. The Old Timer was admired for having survived one heart attack and quadruple bi-pass surgery in order to tell the tale.
Dried buffalo jerky~
Pulling against a man’s molars
Something both juicy and tough to chew on
and sink into
and suck hollow
and chew on some more
and swallow hard~
A real man makes time for his meat; He savors it,
the Old Timer tutored Grey Rock.
And he confided low and lovingly,
how smoked salmon is tender
even when she chews.
Grey Rock believed cooking fell under the category of women’s work, something his grandmother passed down, only teaching her secret recipes to certain women in the family, excluding three of the sisters and including only one granddaughter who was expected to serve as shaman in her stead, upon her death after age 104 or so.
That’s how Grey Rock liked to think of them.
That’s how Grey Rock liked to make believe.
Grey Rock was distracted when the traditional dancing was going on, only keeping vaguely aware of the call for changes in drum or direction when the pitch rose above the drone. He had his preconceived eye fixed on the encircling of the fire and which foot stomped in tandem with a look to the right and he remembered what he was supposed to recall about the original story, where out of the smoke and firelight-shadows, warriors fell from their mustangs as their spirits joined the thunder clouds.
Grey Rock liked to notice the white women behave themselves after being chastised by the Old Timer.
“You better be holding that pole-a-roid up ‘cuz you want me to snap a picture of your tits,” the Old Timer growled at the white woman with the long blond braid, which made the white woman frown and turn shades between pink and red and silently but rather quickly slip her Go-Pro into her leather-tooled pocketbook.
Grey Rock thought about how the white women were spying on his people in plain view, and he thought to himself, you may witness this ritual but you will not capture it.
Grey Rock didn’t know much about social media, but he figured a stolen image would bring in more revenue than what the white women paid to gain entrance to the pow wow and he knew the Old Timer wasn’t about to let their traditions go viral or to the highest bid at auction like some wild west show.
Grey Rock thought of Eagle Feather’s defeat if the white women managed to smuggle out any photos of the dance. He looked around for his brother and when he found him, he asked him if he was up to busting some cameras. His brother shrugged and when he introduced himself to the white woman with the long blond braid, he wondered if she wanted to take pictures of him riding the bull. Grey Rock noticed the white woman turn shades of pink and red again as she smiled and he watched the two of them head for the stadium. She took his brother’s arm when he held out his elbow and Grey Rock snickered when he thought of how his brother was missing one of his cufflinks.
Grey Rock slowed down to cruise through the tourists that considered his people to be the rugged vistas on their scenic route. He noticed how his people’s customs provided unique backdrops for the white women when they were playing golf in their tiny white skirts. He heard them complain about the handicaps to their swings due to canyon winds and creek bed traps, while ignoring the grey smoke of the sage fires to the east.
Grey Rock decided that the white woman in the bikini…
who wanted him to leer at her by the way she applied her suntan lotion, by the way she knew he was staring at her as she arched her back, by the way she was inviting him to ogle when she bent over herself…
was cooking herself
better than buffalo jerky,
and ringing the dinner bell.
Grey Rock overheard Salmon Woman instructing the white women who had clumsily joined the Green dance, meant for tourists, to say, “wy-kan-ush.” The white women giggled and clapped and bounced up and down after collectively pronouncing the word.
Grey Rock eavesdropped, them practicing it and correcting one another where they’d rejoined for mixed umbrella-drinks in the lodge hot tub surrounded by cedar wood carvings. He noticed the top half of their swim suits; the turquoise colored string bikini, the shiny silver Speedo that looked like fish scales, the one piece with the sheer hot pink netting slitted and stretched across the cleavage, the leopard spotted number with a scooping v-line, and the navy-blue tube-style with side-ruching up to her pits. The buoyant white women reminded him of genetically modified farm-fish; easy pickings and degraded, swimming in shallow tanks of water, far from the river’s wild song where the real wy-kan-ush are micro-chipped by scientists and placed on an endangered species list.
The A Tribe Called Red “Sisters” featuring Northern Voice (music video) is being posted here for No commercial Purpose.