Michael Graber

What Laughing Chains

A Line

One sailor said: "He couldn't have tossed himself in that wasted state, must have been drinking nitroglycerin in his beer, melted on deck, and washed into the ocean."

No one was near when the sea spasmed
or the ruffled wave formed an almost
fleshy torso. No one else tasted
the brine-tinged hair of the casual goddess,
the bitch wrapped him in slaps
as the Gulf blossomed in hunger.

Before noon, the tide calmed outside
Havana. Giant coral razored
his bloated body. Effervescent
cells released in death ferment
in foam and collect like hairs
in the back of the throat.

Hart Crane, Hart Crane--
a scuffle of birdwings, the throat
of ship's engine, songs homesick
sailors wail, a slight gurgle
--all melt together and mimic
the sound of the sea.

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The 2River View, 3_4 (Summer 1999)