Three Poems by Cynthia Kraman

The Captain (1)


The captain is quiet in his cabin
Smiling at the man who pronounced terroir
At his table as though the Pommerol,
Supine and primeval would certainly
Tear the throats of those not from the region

He’s wondering this night about nothing
Having checked his course carefully and well
Besides, there’s so much radar equipment
On his own deck and those passing close by
In the night there’s no good way to stay lost

But what if, although he doesn’t wonder
With all the precautions and devices
A great white ice floe rose up and hit him?
This could never happen. He never
Tastes earth in the wine he laps like a cat



The Captain (2)


How quiet is the captain at his wheel
Weaving night tides as if navigating
By force of will, by holding hands steady—
Again young resisting unyielding in church
The pretty hand of the near gilded girl

Without a sigh, steadily applying
Rapt attention to the meaningless words
Dropped into his memorializing
Mind about to grasp, organize, form
Chaos into a course leading somewhere—

To the somewhere he sees as being sent to
Without purpose other than to meet—oh!—
Destiny—a white whale—some chunk of ice
And steer clear of its sleek seductions
Or dive headlong and take the crew with him



The Captain (3)


There is my hand, says the captain laying
It beside him—calls it—my great triumph
In the grainy glass lying beside him
He sees the reflection of a monster
Making its way up a long grey wave

To his ear where the ocean spoons itself
My great triumph—
finds itself beached, a whale
On his eardrum tired of listening nights
For nothing but ice and fog, the trodding
Stars gathered now in furs, wrapped in ermine

All my sense are leaving me he says
Even after this—my triumph!—my eyes
Rheum, legs totter, the poor ear is full of
Ocean spill even thought I avoided
Everything including death and not death




Cynthia Kraman was lead singer/songwriter for the Seattle band Chinas Comidas. Her latest book is The Touch (Bowery Books); others include Taking on the Local Color (Wesleyan UP) and Club 82 (Workingman’s Press). Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, The Southern Review, Poetry Flash and Open City. She is a professor of English at The College of New Rochelle.

Leave a Reply