V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




            As it is myself who now tell you this tale . . .
            you see that I did escape . . .
                         —From Poe's "A Descent into the Maelstrom"

In those long hours clenched against the barrel,
body bruised, a full moon visible,
the water's black walls rising, brother clinging,
unheard, to the ring-bolt, I rode the whirlpool
helplessly: that massive, gorge-like funnel
swallowed all, devouring in its roar
a Dutch wreck, fir trees, splintered furniture
revolving still, soon crushed, the ship's bell clanging
as it tore and sank.  And yet, I held
on tightly, certain that my life would end—
short, pointless life—inside the same dark swirl
that spat up masts, chewed sails, while one dim pearl
hung, useless, in the sky.  What power withheld
that fate from me I cannot comprehend.

© by Ned Balbo


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