hovers over your coiffed head, cawing in protest at the abominable stench rising, tears in its eyes, close to regurgitating its hard-sought lunch. Coleridge. Coleridge. Coleridge, you dotard. Have you no pity? No mercy? Must you pollute the earth’s air with poetry, chasing me as I flee your icy bewilderment? Must you call after me, your hideous voice echoing against the bruised clouds? Why should I not kill you for such elemental transgressions, silent seas be damned; your shrieks mutes the thunder, your delirium churns the slimy sea, my home, turning it against me and my kind. Rotting darkened sea, my frosted ass. Spare me your off-rhymes, the failed slants, the tortured rhythms. They fall from my ears no easier than my carcass was dropped from your neck. Father. Feather. Further. Forfend. Yet you claim a tale to share, a future to save. A weaver of lies like you need only make boast to be believed. Dead, yet I am able to nest in your grey beard, to ponder mortalities whilst you blamed me as if I was the cross Jesus bore. What calumny. What hubris. What a drug-induced delirium. I was never your interlocutor. The magnet that drew your warped dreams outward. Your ship sails without me, my stilled wings offer no forward aid. Yet your heart drums another beat, a stilled sorrow, something that blackens the stars and cauterizes cataracts and keeps the soul anchored to watery earth. You see the prayerless dead. The moon that abandons those who look to the sky. Stars that failed and fell far away from those who needed their comforting light. Sleepless, you laid this burden around my withered neck, seeking to save your miserable own. Not enough that I was dead, you laid heavier burdens upon my wizened neck, and sought freedom from a past that held you tight, kept your lungs from filling, and drew its life as yours. Already dead, you lingered in a denatured bliss, a world without, a sphere unbound, lacking angels and song, and any answer to a prayer unasked. Your ship sailed without you, and will dock without snow or mist. No waves will follow your path. No wind will calm or breathe to ensure your warped heaven. No blind sailors will raise sails or secure a rudder for your voyage. Nothing can rise from this sorrowed moon’s passage.

Richard Weaver

Post-Covid, the author has returned as writer-in-residence at the James Joyce Pub in Baltimore. Among his other pubs: conjunctions, Vanderbilt Review, Southern Quarterly, Free State Review, Hollins Critic, Misfit Magazine, Loch Raven Review, The Avenue, New Orleans Review, & Burningword. He’s the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press, 1992), and wrote the libretto for the symphony, Of Sea and Stars (2005). He was a finalist in the 2019 Dogwood Literary Prize in Poetry. His 200th Prose poem was recently published.

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