Nathan Dennis is a playwright and poet of Floridian extraction. He is the Vintner-in-Chief of Wine Cellar Press, a poetry press dedicated to free and formal verse in equal measure. Nathan's work has appeared in The Knight's Library, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Cabinet of Heed and Serotonin. His upcoming chapbook, I Am Hades, is forthcoming from Exeter Publishing.
Waltz on the Adriatic
I’m running out of money.
And the money I have, I’m burning on
twelve euro Turkish Coffee.
Sacking Constantinople, cup by cup,
as a Deadbeat Doge
seated outside myself in a composite memory
of marrying The Sea,
in the Drawing Room of Old Europe –
where we turn our sins to museums,
and make most serene our palaces of failure.
My dwindling euro pays for more dwindling daylight,
golden dusk that smudges off the cruelties
of cold accounts: bank or historical.
A sunset censor. A fuzzy shadow blanket.
A halo of streetlights off the Basilica
that washes our decay into the Adriatic.
Venice: I weep the beauty of atonement
as the stars tinker down
a soft waltz on Piazza San Marco
that I shuffle to in a twisting trinity
of errors repeated,
that somehow becomes
more beautiful with each misstep.
I met a blood orange at the grocery store.
I wore gloves when I picked up the blood orange.
I wore gloves when I brought the blood orange home.
I wore gloves when I took off my gloves.
I asked the blood orange to get a test,
But the blood orange said that tests were hard to come by
And to trust her, because oranges are organic
And I can trust organic.
And the orange asked me if I had been tested,
And I said no, but I wore gloves when I picked her up.
So the orange said she wasn’t worried, so I shouldn’t be worried,
But if I was worried, she would just peel herself.
But I was very hungry. And her peel looked very clean.
So I ran the blood orange under some water.
And I lathered her peel until her peel relaxed.
And I peeled her peel with nails clipped clean,
Until the scent of citrus was screaming in my nostrils
And the hemoglobin in the pith strained into my hands
As rivulets, flooding the channels of my palm lines.
And the death god that loomed so large in my mind
Shrank so microscopic when looking at an orange unfurled,
Asking me so kindly to eat.
And vitamin C does a body good.
Danger! Danger! Harpoons are upon her –
Us! Us! Leviathan America:
Sperm whale, punctured and moored by her own spur,
Bartered without care to any stranger.
Danger! Leviathan America!
At sea: Cannibal of Democracy.
See how she grows fat: guzzling her krill
Past her fill. Terror on the open sea:
A fifty-foot blubber-laden danger.
Stranger! Leviathan America!
She: ravenous for ivory and oil,
She: sells her calf to Ahab for a helm,
She: stalks the seas for leaky heads of spoil.
Have you seen that? A whale captain a ship?
Watch the leviathan spear her own kin,
Overladen with sin, she grows greater.
Traitor! Leviathan America!
Mutiny! Mutiny on the high sea!
No barter left! She sold her sweet plunder.
She sold all her oil for all her blubber.
She sold her blubber for her ivory.
She sold her ivory for her harpoons.
She sold her harpoons for her ambergris.
She sold her ambergris for drops of oil.
And her ship rattles as the tempest howls,
And her crew flees as the storm cleaves her bow.
And all the sharks and orcas and krakens
Circle the overladen cetacean
With harpoons of her own perverse making.
Lashing, lancing her till the chop foams red
From her leaky head: weeping blood and dread
Rancid failure: curdled over us – her!
Hunted and drowned at our hand, our mother.
Mother! Leviathan America!