black t shirt
The gray whales are going south: I see their practicalities
They are surly the great pale bulks of hot blood, that
Rise and fall, rise and fall, catching the wind with the sea-
Turning over the deep cold waters!
None of us here, remember our ancestors-this is so?
Those that crawl the earth, they do!
“Get out of the ocean,” I howl, try to tell them,
Time and time again, flukes looking for rainbows-
Like rattlesnakes trying to swim, that’s what I think of
Them; like the birds, I call them stone clouds-
Heavy footed creatures-they’ve taken to the sea, from time
Immemorial, yet they do not belong here, or to us.
There, over there, look, eyes, look, there is a skull of a man looking: these creatures have thoughts and emotions,
Move about with thin cracking bones, white as clouds;
Bones no stronger than eggshells-
Protein eaters, with erratic nerves and brain waves…
He just stares at me, as if I shouldn’t exist; now he’ll
Write something to the effect, “I saw strange things in
My time, one was a Merman,’ but he’ll not scream
It out, lest he alter his image to his comrades.
“Grow fat and die old man,” that is my wisdom for him.
He thinks I’m the devil I bet.
Beware of my teeth, ha, ha, ha…!
I saw a great squid this morning-deep, very deep
Must have weighted ten-thousand pounds-maybe not,
Maybe that’s an exaggeration, perhaps three thousand!
Hiding under the weight of the world to grab me!
To eat me-the slime, like a worm, but slow as
A tree grows, ugly as seaweed; no wiser than a
Dumb mule-mindless, just muddy flesh creeping
In the darkness-he will die soon, greatness in the
Sea Mr. Man, means long life, but death comes to us
Too, tragedies also, our blood will blend into the sea.
We have our wooded glens, and nostalgic twilights-
Just like you, just different, so don’t be so snobbish.
We don’t have fire that’s about it, but we got the sun
And we got molten rock, volcanic emissions-so put
That in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Man!
He’s looking for his camera I think.
You are no different than a beast, with thoughts, passions
Your horns are hidden inside your heart.
You are more animal than I.
You’d freeze in the ice-cold midwinter waters-turn yellow
That’s how weak you are; perhaps I’m jealous, I’m not sure.
No oxygen down here, just salted water for us monstrous
Beings…we are although made of amino-acids, I think.
I am twenty or thirty years more than one-hundred,
And you are not the first man I saw, but I am the first
Merman you saw, I am a wonder of the world to you.
Unambiguously human, you’re thinking I am, and
Unambiguously sea-creature I must be, –
Should I submerge, before you take that picture?
You really do not know what I am, I see that theory on
Your face, which is no theory…I am the least of the wonders
Of the sea, should you take time to investigate?
Here in the ocean, we do not take sides, like you do, in
War, there are no brawlers here.
Just good and evil, that, which is common among all living
Things-no, we don’t hold our noses and compromise,
Cold minds, we are not Hitler’s here, nor without love, but
For a few of us; no quarrels, for us it is better not to strike
Or if necessary, strike often.
Here I live among stones that have rolled about on the
Floor of the sea for thousands of years, many are unlucky
They end up, with the tides onto the bays of the world,
Along the shore, never again to feel the brush of water:
Picked up by man, for a wall or fence, or house-who’s
To say, it’s all a craving passion for man to own-they love
The tide-wash, that’s what I call it. They make me neurotic,
The nausea they provide just watching the sea, as if they
Were shepherds, all demagogues?
Go back to your pitiless wars, prepare for them.
Your yachts-go back and hide on your yachts, and say
To your people what great seamen you are;
Feel our fresh air beating against your shoulders, and Drunken faces; I’ve seen many a man fall into the sea,
Look straight into my eyes, want me to save them.
“Death,” I say to them ‘cold and stern death,” I whisper as
Bubbles come out of their mouth, with blood in the
Corners: I want to be merciful, and even have wanted to save
A few-but I don’t, their eyes say “You have the keys to
The reserves, to allow me to live,” their hot young lives Sinking, sinking, fates of life, who knows what crimes they’ve
Committed on land-they are the meanest minds once you’ve opened them up, save them, yes, I’ve heard tales from a few of my kind, Pale Saints I call them, they think they are the lions of the sea, and they flock around their feet, and drag them on shore, and they wake up thinking a miracle took place. We are intelligent too; we just do not bow to them like…
“Okay, okay, take the picture,” he sees me “take the damn
Picture, and get it over with!”
The old man just stands there like a goat. If I tell him to ignore me, he won’t. Go back to your house, your castle, or
Whatever you call it-shed, slow-witted man!
Go hammer away on the skulls of your beloved friends
Your great ideas how you’ll save the world-
Stupidity! That is what it is, his brains are squeezed, he just
Wants a picture to show his friends down at the bar;
He’s got lopsided shoulders, perhaps other things
Lopsided also-I see the sea-wind makes him shiver,
You’ve got to move that hot blood about, like the whales do!
“SNAP!” He took the picture. Now forever he’ll be
Impressed, at the bar talking like brattling birds about
The Merman; I will be a inane, ridicules monster to them,
A freak: I am who I am.
Someone will say, some girl “Ah, sad, the poor freak!”
Then someone else will say a mindlessly drunk,
“He made that from shadows,” as if he altered the Photograph-I think they call it special effects.
Shocking green creature like me-they’ll don’t exist, then
The old man will point on the photograph this and that: he’ll point to the starting point of my tiny jaw, my iron gray hair-
If only they knew my tiresome memories, but they don’t care about them, that is what I’d like to tell them of “Waaah!”
Yes, I’d cry out to those nasty man faces, and I’d like to tell them to get rid of those nasty nets and all-I say, with a neurosis way of thinking, I know but it is the only way to say it: “No offense, get rid of the nets, those nasty nets!”
It was not always like this, no, not always, but those good
Days are gone. More people moving west,
For the splintered sunlight I guess.
It is a matter of fact, I have never killed a man, and never
Will, or expect to.
Small squids, more meat!
It is true I feel some kind of dismay for man, discounting Women, I’ve never saw one.
But whales, and sharks, and eels, can make for a concerning
Afternoon, no weak division here: it is their happiness:
They see all life with no scrutinizing of it;
They’re mask in it like crabs in sludge…
So I live, day by day, month to month, year after year, age
To age, I talk to myself, to the moon, the stars. Even to this Man who took a picture of me, some three-hundred feet away,
Old coot, who’s shaking his head-yes, I’m having a
One-way conversation with him that he is unaware of!
I see in far-off distance behind his shed, wild pigs, no
Not really, kids, must be his grandkids he’s looking at them
And then me, I nod my head ‘no’ he understands that, he
Knows I’ll submerge if he does. Let them rattle away
Into the bushes! That’s what I say. Talking, talking, I feel
I’m spinning a web, and he thinks he’s dreaming.
Woops, I get the first grin stirring at me,
I want to tell him to ram that grin up his nose! But I would.
He’s just really a pile of bones, old rat pile of bones,
With a fat belly, a foul bulk rolling belly,
He won’t have time to have old memories of me-
Blue sweater, like the sea!
An invisible fire is in his eyes, not sure what they say,
But should I follow my intuition, I’d submerge,
They want to talk to me: My soul can hardly resist, should I? What do you think? Guess, if I will or will not?
His fists are clinched, he wants to growl,
Swim out and deep into the sea with me,
And I’m only knee high in the water for him.
I crawl up nearly onto the bank, catch my breath,
I’m not sure how long I can remain out here,
This has been the longest of times for me-
I feel like hissing, but I had to-I mean, I’ve always wanted to
One time, just one time, see how long I’d last,
Notice the terrible sameness, these men put up with.
Perhaps even talk to one: what’s intuition anyways!
I could drag his old bones out to sea,
Down into the dark Chasms!
Then he’d have something to talk about.
Seize him, crush his bones. I get terrified just thinking
About me doing it: he’s shaking his head for me not to go!
I don’t want an audience.
At the same time, this is somewhat interesting.
Perhaps he thinks he’ll snatch me, not in a thousand
Years, unless he is a lunatic, and has a fit, I’ll jump
Backwards-but I can’t take him down,
My heart’s not in it…
He glances at me awkwardly, like a lizard-
Sneaking up closer: foot by foot!
I used to take some pride in showing off,
I was younger back than, burning with sickness
And show myself to the sailors, and they’d yell
“Look over yonder!”
That was when I moved to the deep-sea depths:
To get away from all that foolishness!…
My roots go back ten-centuries.
If he wants to live like me, he’s crazy; I live in a king’s
Graveyard, sprayed out from end to end
With unmoving nights, lest a cadaverous creature
Detect my sudden coming-
Thus, comes cringing stages, and lack of sleep
In hushed old caves-
There I sink into silence, cross my fins, hope my world
Doesn’t end, that some shark or eel or similar foe
Find my dingy underground room.
I live where my unremembered ancestral have lived.
Yes Mr. Man, on one hand it is a miserable life, in the sea,
Clutches at my sleep, but like your greed and wars
And stories you like to boast about…
We stand and survive in our own putrid environments:
“Don’t ask a question please!” He wiggled a finger;
Now he looks at his watch.
I wait here, why?
Should I talk to him, I know several languages,
Even his English and his wife’s Spanish…
She looks Spanish,
I’ve seen her in the window several times,
She’s younger than he, calm as winter.
Yes, I’ve come up now and then, she’s seen me I bet,
Respected me, said nothing, otherwise he’d not be so
Surprised-ten years I’ve watched her, no, it’s been twelve!
Did I say I never saw a woman?
I forgot I have, a shadow, she’s just a shadow though.
“Woe, woe, woe!” cries the seagulls in the wind overhead.
I hear my belly, it growls, sick from that sour squid.
There she peeks out the window:
Take him, she says, take him away s I can live in peace-
I can’t read her lips, but if I were her, I’d be saying that,
The old coot, ram rod coot.
He’s a punishment for her, that’s what I say.
I wonder if she’d marry me.
They marry I guess, not like us in the sea.
The dogs behind the house, howl,
Playing with the children, they seem to be on the edge;
I wonder what’s happening way back there.
She’s gone from the window now, I suppose she’s
Wondering too…kick them with a shoe!
Theories, he’s still on theories, whimpering, whining, Mumbling, and groaning for me to take him down;
Almost praying…a feeble-minded old man,
With sagging flesh, that even the falcons would get tart from!
Married to a pretty wench!
His legs are swollen; he’s a hundred feet from me now.
The sky has changed.
He has some lunatic theory-he’s talking away, as if
Talking to his ear-
I’m starting to cringe, claw my flesh, I should flee-
I’m getting goose bumps, if you know what I mean
He thinks he’s penetrated a mystery, he has a chilly
Intellect, I can say that, it’s getting hard for me to cope here!
My mind’s goes suddenly white,
I drop to my knees, and I’m on sand, he has dragged me onto Sand, what’s he intending to do? What happened?
I stare up, amazed, I feel as if I was struck by a baseball bat.
He’s torn off my arm; I’ll never be able to swim.
Blood is pouring out of me.
The woman is waving behind me,
How did she get her so quick?
The dogs and kids are running down to see.
“No, now think, think straight!”
I’m really going to die, he thinks he can-
The cold blooded Beast!
I cry out, “Help!”
His whisper follows that, “It was an accident,” liar,
He just wants me to be calm, for the children.
He overturns me like an infant, a tossing fish!
I bellow out, “Help! Please help…!”
The blind mindless, old coot-what’s he up to.
He thinks I’m a demon, no just an odd creature.
He’s tying my other hand around my waist,
With his twisted shirt, “Accident,” he repeats,
Then why is he doing what he is doing?
He’s taking another picture of me, for god’s sake,
What is his problem…his game?
Blackness, I’m feeling the dark power moving over me,
I’m falling into a deeper dread, I’ll tumble into death
I know that now.
Again, my sight gets better, but blood is all underneath me,
My blood: I gave him what he wanted, a smile, a moment,
A picture, and now we are old enemies.
My heart bangs with terror.
He’s just standing there, his wife calm as winter, mindless Too; he never did want to go down to the chasm below,
He is feeling joy for his capture-he will boast this evening.
He’ll be in the paper tomorrow.
I am his animal, his prize, his fish.
They are enjoying my obliteration!
“Poor, creature,” I hear one of the kids say,
He whispers back to the child:
“He had an accident, it was better to put him out of his Misery.”
Note: This story has a tinge of truth to it, Robinson Jeffers, the great poet, once claimed he saw a Merman, off the coast of Carmel, California, and thus, this author, and poet has taken that as inspiration to write his, epic style poetic narration. Also, when he was in Equator, at the main museum in Quito he saw a picture of a Merman that was seen and then drawn, and documented, again, off the California Coast, sometime during the 1920s, and when the author was in Malta, he heard stories of them likewise dating back to the 14th Century, seen by folks living in a large mammoth cave like quarters: a kind of gypsy people of those far-off days. Thus, again, legend keeps coming up, and so this his extraction from all these experiences, and encounters in his travels.
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write by Ahmed Alatari