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Dan Beachy-Quick
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from Chapter 1--A Valiant He
 
A.  Exegesis of the First Words Spoken (Ishmael)


       Scholar-on-waves, a water-gazer,
       Call me

       Ishmael. Re-enter my own life.
       Waves: they murmur, babble, waves

       Do not articulate what the ocean
       Turning in its bed thinks: What must be said.

                  Sing above or sing
                  Below
                  The knot in the plank, the cursive
                  Pine-grain
                  Of my life in the bow and my life

                  Bay-less in the bowels
                  Of the bow.

       I signed me on as myself
                                    to become more so
                                                           myself—
       A study, one volume of 36 signatures, 576 pages (9 blank for notes),
       And became dispossessed of all
                                                           but one mis-
                                                           spoken leaf—
       Pro- and epilogue both. Sign your mark. I do

       Find the escape
       Clause titled in fine print, watermarked, on condition

       Of being or becoming: me

       Tar-dark, thumbless or thumbed,
       Ocean eats the nib of pen
       But a nub dipped in pitch

                  Sing above or sing below
                  The wave’s back
                  Broken by another wave

                  There is no air beside.

       A nub dipped in pitch
       Can’t help

       But write, beneath the sea-hawk’s wing
       The sea-hawk’s cry, Sign your mark

       With a nail, a splinter, a harpoon
       In the hand can’t help

       But
                  Sing above and sing below
       But write but
                  What song strides surface tension
       Help but write
                  Thirst chokes and salt slakes
       A contract for a name

       Of being or becoming
       Ink on the line, a name or a contract

       For a name, a thumbprint, or I
       Signed me on on my name alone: Now

       Profit Now Leak Now Bury Now Speak.


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