A Short Film on Melville

BY Mark DeCarteret

Your tongue long-censored
with both honey and gravel
sought only gratitude—
the critic saying better
what from critics you wanted, 
but the quill and its belly of ink
weren’t unlike some whaler’s tool
with little or no mind for healing.  
Another squirrel starts the day
in the shadow of your thoughts, 
a luminous accent once put to paper
now is scrapped by your eyes—
this was ocean they said
seeing ocean in everything, 
other words carved
into the soles of your shoes, 
more cursed passages.  
Even with the pigs deified
still the stalls will need mucking.  
After days without any light sighted
your wife’s curtsy of coal—
whose mouth would no better
that blackest start of your fire?



Mark DeCarteret's work has appeared in the anthologies American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon Press), Thus Spake the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader (Black Sparrow Press) and Under the Legislature of Stars—62 New Hampshire Poets (Oyster River Press) which he also co-edited. Flap, his fifth book, was published in 2010 by Finishing Line Press. From 2009-2011 he was the Poet Laureate of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. You can check out his Postcard Project at pplp.org