TURNING A BATTLESHIP

TURNING A BATTLESHIP

They say it’s like turning a battleship.

They say they’re making progress:

the vast bulk of iron against the swell

that rises and rises and against the wind

that never, ever, for a moment, lets up.

All hands are doing what sailors do–

–turning cranks, watching dials,

running to and fro.  It was more obvious

when the ships were under sail,

when it had to do with lowering and raising,

with ropes and anchors and chains.

Like turning a battleship, they say.

Something that big, pounding along in a fixed direction,

thousands of tons afloat

inflexible, ungraceful, lumbering, loud,

not like, say, whales,

who turn their enormity

graceful and swiftly, who breach and sing and whisper and fly–

and porpoises–

and kayaks, currochs, dugouts,

sailboards and surfboards

skimming and slipping the surface–

and leaves in autumn–

russet from the ash trees, red from the maple,

brown from the oak–

and golden birch leaves–

how they blow light and high, following

every whisp

of wind–

and ravens somersaulting–and hawks–

and little birds

flipping so easy above the corn–

and snowflakes and snowboarders and

children on swings and monkey-bars–

and ballerinas, gymnasts,

contra-dancers,

parachutists, politicians,   bass guitarists–

and all those World Cup footballers

turning on a dime.

I wrote this in 2006. An experiement, since wordpress doesn’t let me use my own formats. Here’s a screenshot of the poem–the words aren’t too legible, I think, but this shows the shape of it.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 6.38.57 AM

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