I thought I would have circulation,
involuntarily, methodically knocking –
striving, pacing, bound,
all magnetic, in the great American desert,
wedded for ever to the landscape,
a hollow trunk, a crucifix within,
I say I am the sea,
I do not mean I have salt or glory.
For my part,
the archangel Gabriel is content
we consign ourselves to perdition:
I should now take it into my head
to go on a voyage,
part of the grand Providence
drawn up long ago –
wild and distant perils,
like a hill in the air.
Source text: Herman Melville, Moby-Dick chapter 1.
Already we are boldly lost,
The Leviathan is appreciative
of exhibition, chaos.
“Utter confusion exists among the historians
of our research in unfathomable waters.”
“Impenetrable veil of incomplete indications
to torture us.”
Speak the great anatomy, real,
the science of whales and men –
what purpose have names
upon the throne!
I promise nothing
because to be complete must be a fault.
I am the architect,
not the builder.
It is a ponderous task
to grope down to the bottom of the sea,
to have one’s hands among the foundations,
ribs, and the very pelvis of the world.
I have swam with these visible hands,
and I will try.
I call upon holy Jonah to pretend
to see a difference between a monster and his name.
This uncertain fugitive, I know personally.
I shall be blessed –
full of Leviathanism,
but signifying nothing.
I have kept my word.
I leave unfinished. God keep me
from ever completing anything.
Source text: Herman Melville, Moby-Dick chapter 32.
Nolan Liebert hails from the Black Hills of South Dakota, where he lives with his wife and children in a house, not a covered wagon. His literary experiments are scattered in places such as Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry, freeze frame fiction, and Plasma Frequency, with work forthcoming in An Alphabet of Embers (Stone Bird Press) and My Cruel Invention (Meerkat Press). You can find him editing Pidgeonholes or on twitter @nliebert.