Whaling Blues — a found poem

Whaling Blues — a found poem
(take one of the blues, the largest…)

Lying at the ocean’s surface,
he is an island in the sea.
He does not fear others.
Others do not fear him.

His only victims
are two-inch crustaceans
(doubtlessly too primitive
for anxiety).

His body is used
for the satisfaction
of skillful motion,
not combat;
he is as harmless as flowers
and, in his silver swimming grace,
as beautiful.

Buoyant with blubber
and virtually weightless
in his glossy yielding element,
he is freer than the birds.

Monogamous —
mating in one year,
raising an infant in the next —
he strokes and glides along
his partner’s body
(although their specific interest in sex
is limited to the spring).

Good will, devotion:
he will stay
with his wounded mate
as long as life lasts,
even while knowing
death is certain.

The best of neighbors,
he will tirelessly
hold up to breathe
an ill or injured friend —

even that pygmie, man,
who hunts with harpoons
and his insatiable hunger
for car wax,
and shoe polish

from the last
of the blues.

c elf 1960s

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