Respectability and Other Poems


It is unhinging, the opposite view
of your cabinet, where face value

persists in surface and polish:
Johnston & Murphy, J. Crew

thus arrayed, for the captain
whose collections you guard

like any stowaway tested, proved good—
here’s Captain, still trusting

a throat to your blade,
its velocity creeping to gale force, keen

on overtaking all terrestrial
rotation. While the next passing

siren swells its patriot’s flag
of caterwaul heralding war

here a silk tongue rolls out like
hush, with inveigling knot

of the professional patois.
How long since one’s expression

creased with hint
of rebellion; conquest

demands its cohesions.
So huff more steam

across a starched white sea,
lean right and left, each

for the same black coffee. If one
turns even by a hair

uncertain, who would here stand
as our sir in sworn loyalty,

attend at the buttoning
of this left-handed cuff,

take a next shift
as first mate without mutiny

when only one of him believes
in bounty out there—

but enough: to dare sirens,
push off.
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