Monday, August 16, 2010

Waves from the Potomac

Multitudinous grains of speckled sand, in and out again,
little curls and eddies swirling up the image
beneath a lapping, translucent lens.
Old, old Chesapeake crabber sees it moving so.
No good catch today; old boots, other garbage;
good wind whistling North Ireland tunes.
Smells of engine puttering, stale cigarette breath.
Ripples in his reflection.

Old, old Chesapeake crabber; strong arms, weak eyes,
thinks every day of serpents seated high atop the crests of waves,
crying out wisdom like thunder, laughing, crying so,
they laugh so hard: they smack their knees.
It sounds like water on the sideboards.

Ten cigarettes or so a day, these days, a beer apiece.
Not very good stuff, but when it isn't spicy, anything tastes like smoke.

Old, old Chesapeake crabber; lives on the docks,
nice cozy bed below-decks, calls sleeping rock 'n' roll.
Hates to see young punks buzzing around his pier,
disturbing what's sacred on the water.

Every night he's a child for 6 hours, breathing in time
with the mother-river's inhale-exhale,
soft waves like a pillow of milk breasts
clothed in satin starlight nightgown: a reflected sky.

Gentle raucous battered sweet harmonica,
key of G, drifts up Sunday mornings.
At church he doesn't exist,
but when he sees the face of God
and roars "Jesus Christ!" he means it, every time.

Old, old Chesapeake crabber nurses his own past lives.
Once a month he watches his face in the light
of a good cigar on the bay at night,
tapping ash, causing ripples.
Once a month: cries for lack of karma,
seeing no cause and effect to pattern memory.
In the morning: new waves from the Potomac.

Looks at God today, sees me tying off lines, says
"What the hell you staring at!"
I wave. He smiles.

Makes me laugh every time.


  1. Hi Dan,
    Oh, did I enjoy reading this!! Such color painted in every descriptive line . . . and real depth of imagery. I felt like I've seen a man like this old Crabber long ago . . . gutsy, cranky,poignant and soulful . . . a real "don't give a damn" guy you've gotta love.
    This is a gem!

  2. Thanks so much, Joanne. This one was great to write, I'm glad it's good to read as well! If you see him again, be sure to tell him hello for me. :)

    -Dan H.

  3. That is really cool...
    The picture is clear...
    It feels sorta like "A Clean Well Lighted Place"
    But this is way better =)

  4. Thanks very much! I hadn't thought of that comparison. I can see it though.

    Better than Hemingway?! I think not. But thank you, though!

    -Dan H.