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Cap'n Jack, Maria, and the End of Days Cap'n Jack, Maria, and the End of Days
by Dr. Lawrence Nannery
2013-07-12 10:36:51
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I

There's grey now in the jolly, covering beard
That gives him a touch of quiet competence
That looks just right behind the big yacht wheel.
He's not plump, but plumpish, and ready enough.
He's near to ending his flaming middle passage now.
The grey-blue eyes are commanding, reassuring.
If you could get close enough to him to ask
(But you could never get close enough to ask)
He would furtively cast you off and give a wink …
He won't talk about himself … he's had enough …
If his people wanted to find him they could find him.
And that tree that was planted as a symbol of their love,
You know what they can do with that don't you?

 

One day!  That's when it all happened … one day.
The man now Cap'n Jack was in a day in his forty-fourth year,
His head on one arm of the sofa, his feet up on the other
In the middle of the Sunday papers, near Cleveland,
When suddenly it occurred to him
That the apple of his happiness was brown at the core.
Caught up in the middle of economic conditions —
His wife of twenty years once again rotating herself
In and out of the cuckoo house of contempt —
And all that clash and clamor of fractious noisome kids,

Katzenjammer!
Fed up with the lawnmower, the barbecue and under the hood of the car —
He disappeared one day and surfaced the next season
As the loving skipper of this ship, down here in old Saint Croix.

 

Ah, to lie in bed at night, no salient visuals —
To lie there in the Spring-like night —
To lie there lazily and hear the cooing dependency of a woman,
A woman who never lies, no cuckoo —
To lie there and listen to the sounds of crickets
And waves plashing, to lie there
And feel the moonlight floating in through the window like powder,
To lie there and see only vaguely the round of her face in repose,
The soft eyes, the half of her smile,
And to smell her through her perfume:
For a heart that had almost forgot how to dream
This is a dream.

II

Maria, who adores him, has a story of her own.
She manages the Hotel Excelsior and'd been waiting for him,
Although she didn't know it, only God could say how long.
How ever she herself arrived here, she'll never tell.
"Now this is a man, clean, who gets his shirts
Direct from Saks and who knows a good weave.
He drinks, yes, but only after dark.
He has eyes dropped down from the sky,
And knows his cravats and his hand-made shoes.
Clean. Never wears anything two days in a row.
Now where can you find a man like that I ask you?"

Her voice chokes and croaks, like a motorboat skipping,
Losing itself in a darkness when she speaks of him.
This classy guy is someone to laugh with, forget the rest.
To him she'll be faithful as to nobody else.

 

With histories no longer, like a lord and his lady
They drink every night, laughing into their gin and tonics
As though the world's a big joke and only they're in on it.
They croon to one another, moderato cantabile: "we two…", "we too…".
They keep this low-pressure lovemaking to themselves
Because others would be jealous if they knew. …

 

At eleven sharp    always eleven    they wander hand in hand,
Free and easy, over to the room, the bed.
There they love to tuck one another in, like babes.
With midnight kisses, and purling intimacies
Signed with bobbing glowing cigarette ends in the dark.
Their souls bow to each other: she never asks, he never asks.
Here they don't need confidences, or jibes against the rest.
"Aw!" she squawks, "you brute, you beast you. …"
But, "gently, gently now" he goes, she goes,
Alternating their heads on one another's chests.
This makes the night longer, and long through the nights
The hiccuping heartbeats march on mutually.

 

On wastrel days you'll find them at five
Down in the marina, ambling off in the amber sunrise,
Hand in hand, past the docks,
Singing old favorites, singsonging chanteys.
They are uncorraled, the past is furled,
And their little joys, their intimate words,
Lie exhausted in their post-meridian slough.

 

III

 

In their thousands they are out there,
In dusty towns at the edges of Empires,
Growing the lion's mane, the bison's beard,
Coming down from the crests of parabolas of (perhaps) paranoia.
Little rivers running loud, ever-shallower streams,
They have only time for remainder dreams.
And so they evade hysteric histories, seek second skins.
Murmur flotsam thoughts, memoirs of hurt,
Softening without hope their embittered laughters.

 

 

Leave these lovers alone.  Feel their dependencies.
Let them rush and run in incoherent torrents,
Let them float on the lips of glaciers,
Squat on bleak and boggy and fog-laden lands.
Let them sail on the clear days, drink themselves drunken
In freedom and rejection of this punishing world.

 

 

 

IV

 

 

Cap'n Jack roams a wharf on an early day
Content with himself: it pleases him to live this way.
Some day he'll give up the boat,
He'll buy that little place, and he'll run it with Maria.
She'll serve the drinks and he'll warble a Maggie Mae.
He'll tickle the ivories and the women will be moved.
He'll waltz them and he'll woo them,
And the laughter will run and tears will run
And the booze will flow and they'll share it together,
And life will be pastime, and no one will judge them.

 

 

In the long run, eventually, the Sun will set,
But he's not ready to get off this gravy train yet.

 

 

 


    
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