I come back to work from tour,
& Chuck is mad at me for leaving him
again. Red-faced & shouting, he yells
Why do you always have to go off & do
poetry things, bud? You’re never going
to be famous, & I’m stuck between
the second cup of coffee & my fourth
existential crisis of the morning, so
I have no satisfactory answer to his
interrogation. Steel eyes & the light over
the stove bore into my skull. I try to manufacture
a suitable response to his challenge,
but all that comes to mind is a stammer.
Two years ago, I read about a whale
just off the Pacific coast. Scientists
don’t know much about her except she’s
lonely, her whalesong tuned to a frequency
foreign to all the other whales. Isolated
from communication with the rest of her kind
she drifts alone in her own private ocean.
No mate. No pod to swim with. No companionship
of any kind, & yet she sings her song in
the face of silence. A sender with no receiver,
& there’s probably supposed to be a metaphor
in all of this. I tell Chuck I am writing whale songs,
for all missed signals & crossed wires,
for the poets forever doomed to languish
in obscurity & squalor. I am writing whale songs
for all the shaking, cracked voices shouting
in the vast emptiness of their own oceans,
for every quiet voice born into a crowded sea.
William James writes poems and listens to punk rock – not always in that order. He’s an editor at Drunk In A Midnight Choir and a two-time Pushcart nominee whose poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Misfit Magazine, Word Riot, The Misanthropy, Words Dance, DM du Jour, and Potluck Magazine, among others. His first full length collection “Rebel Hearts & Restless Ghosts” is forthcoming from Timber Mouse Publishing.