The Old Side-wheel Excursion Steamers

The old side-wheel excursion steamers
chug out toward the open waters, away
from the dark guesses of the zealous
who have traded away the decades
for an oblong box, and a golden clock
likewise oblong, that falls from the box
into the shuddering grass upon opening.
The boat seems rickety, and green
as though mosses and vines were growing
all over it. Where are they going?
I have told the time obligingly to strangers as they passed,
inquiring. I have also gone up the stairway
to the place where strangers sleep, the strangers
and their tigers, the tigers in their tiger sleep.
Not really. I thought of it, though.
The boat appears about to come apart
at any moment. I thought of it, I thought
of it. And then I thought about it.
Though I would like to be there too,
inter-visiting enameled bastions,
participating in a common cause
where the grass springs up unknowingly
as mere whispers rectify enormities,
the place where they had chosen as the meeting
place can barely be construed accessible,
a place in the shade between two buildings
somewhere between Ossining and Garrison.
But if you keep going you will go by
the cities that bear even stranger names,
and maybe they will welcome you, or maybe
only wave and gesture as you pass...
the tiger-spotted herons, manta rays
streaked with purple, and the giant lobsters,
puffers, eels, and sea snakes, flying fish,
and blue peaks fading in the distances of sunset.
Geoffrey Nutter


Geoffrey Nutter

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