Alone Drinking Beer, Watching Monday Night Football
Were I born in nineteenth-century Nantucket, I would have made a fine second lieutenant on a whaling ship of modest prestige. I’d have used words like croze, kreng, flensing, gam, glip, mux, skeeman, and slumgullion in my daily duties braving breaching waves. Upon hearing There she blows, I’d row a tiny dinghy alongside a forty-ton titan and stab three feet of steel into its gut. Then the task of towing it to the ship and hours spent stripping long blankets of blubber off the monstrous fish, blood-drenched and exhausted by the time it had been boiled into barrels. Mostly though, the days would stretch on, dull threads slivered between sky and sea. I’d soften stale hardtack by dipping it in salt water, scratch scrimshaw scenes onto discarded bones, swap stories of serpent-armed squid rising out the depths, read again and again a collection of Shakespeare whose tattered pages end mid-sonnet. I’d stare across the ocean, dreaming of Peru’s port cities, calculating precisely how many pours of rum each successful harpooning afforded me. If I survived the squalls and doldrums, plagues and pirates, I’d return to a city of cobbled streets and hand-tended fields. Whale oil lamps illuminating every home, spermaceti candles blazing bright in bars and dance halls. I’d stand in shadowed corners, quietly lusting after women with waists cinched into the sound of sand whispering through an hourglass. Their figures kept curved by corsets fashioned stiff with the long combs of baleen I tug out the leviathans’ mouths.
Doc Suds is a proud Wisconsin native currently living in Miami, Florida where he reads books, writes poems, listens to hip hop and spends afternoons at the jai alai fronton. His poetry has appeared in The New Delta Review, Gargoyle, The Madison Review, Off the Coast, and elsewhere.
Illustration by Seth Young.