Marsh Hawk Review is an online poetry journal sponsored by the Marsh Hawk Press collective. Marsh Hawk Review will appear twice a year, under the revolving editorship of collective members. Each issue will offer a selection of poems solicited by the editor, in addition to new work posted by poets in the collective.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Norman Finkelstein

Once I Was a Cabin Boy and Went To Sea

Once I was a cabin boy and went to sea.

Once I heard something—overheard something

—but I don’t want to talk about it. I blame

myself. Now it’s nothing but melodrama,

the folds in the curtains, crimson velvet

of course, and dancers in black gowns.

Was this on the ship? A different ship,

a different era, stewards, a jazz

orchestra. Escape and pleasure, the

pleasure of escape. The stateroom. I looked

through the keyhole, looked out the porthole

—but I don’t want to remember. I don’t

want to remember the flesh, the silk, lost

days, lost nights. I was a boy but now

I’m a woman, grown up, taking what

lovers I may choose. Maybe I’ll go to

Denmark. Maybe he was right, the young

pornographer. The best things happen when

you’re near the end.


I wish I could tell you the names of the instruments.

I wish I could tell you the names of the instruments.

I wish I could tell you the names of the heroes,

and of the villains too. I wish it were otherwise.

It’s not a matter of passwords, of classified

documents or sealed files. The memories are

vivid, the colors bright, the sky a cloudless

blue. Right now, the reports are still coming in;

right now, the scans are almost complete. You’re

clean, or so it would appear. Nevertheless,

there are traces, there are indications, there are

different levels of intensity. Need I say more?

This is about connections, conjunctions,

transitions and the terms which effect them.

The order is an illusion, as is the disorder

and all the gadgets used to measure them.

Once upon a time the landscape was nothing

but landscape, for which there was no name.

Once upon a time once upon a time remained

to be formulated. Right now, the reports

indicate that narratives are holding steady.

Lyrics plunged today at the news that

otherness continues to drain from gaps

in the atmosphere, which, FYI, has become

all the more poisonous. Taken together,

the signs point to miraculous events.

The monsters of Providence shall be set free

and we shall rejoice in the words of their

master. The bridges shall be restored, and

new ones built. There shall be no more



The secrets are in a book.

Providence is the capital of Rhode Island.

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