Lara Candland
moby dick chapter xlii abridged and annotated
 

god’s great
unflattering laureate
nature—
she’s the magniloquent creator
of the double cervix—
the head sprouting from
the cervical opening
at the top of the spine [1]
the head
pushing from
the cervical spout
at the bottom of the spine—
o mother—
two-headed
maternal monster—
leviathanical ghost
sailing off
on your own blood tides—
the small phantom ships you spawn
chasing you
 
*
 
you want us to be all ear
&
your whispering tides
say:
(shimmer) the ear is not (shimmer) a being [2]
 
*
o poet, mere,
everyone wants
to mock you
so
don’t touch down
on the boards of the deck
no matter and even how
your wings ache [3]
 
*
 
the peacock
knows i’m watching
&
shimmers out his fan
turning
in show-girl
munificence
and i,
leviathan,
helplessly,
shamefully,
buoyant
before him
 
*



[1] atlas the first cervical vertebrae, axis the second cervical vertebrae, etc.

[2] john cage, “the ear alone is not a being,” 45’

[3] baudelaire: le poète est semblable au prince des nuées/qui hante la tempête et se rit de l'archer;/exilé sur le sol au milieu des huées,/ses ailes de géant l'empêchent de marcher.

 



from Etymology
 

I.
 
He loved to dust his old grammars; it somehow reminded him of his mortality.
 
because while he dusted
his grammar
dismantled itself
as rapidly
as the flesh
fell from its bones
& he couldn’t wait
to be all bone
his body pure grammar
sucked bare
of its embellishments
his rocky smile
all white
all bone
fixed & steady
in the face
of god

 



water to water
 

further abridgements of the good book of melville
 
when queequeg
made a cervix
of the leviathan’s
great skull
 
and birthed
that wild indian
tashtego,
first expertly
unbreeching him,
then bringing him
into the world
head first,
as the lord intended,
 
he was pulled
from water
to water
 
his lungs
and gills
made fish—
 
&
as our temples,
mostly water,
flood
with god’s blood,
we have to dig
our foundations out
& build again
 



leviathan mellvillei
 

“this animal is named from roundness or rolling; for in Dan. hvalt is arched or vaulted." webster's dictionary.
 
       -moby dick, “front matter”
 
if you make it past the jaw
you will get lost
in her fierce
and vaulted
temple—
here you might
be tempted—
confused
by deepness—
to kneel
and speak
to god—
know
that in leviathan
you are already
ensconced
in the flesh
of the lord
who already
spoke
your word



whale valentine lore
 

‘if you should write a fable for little fishes, you would make them speak like great whales.’       
                                    -goldsmith to johnson
 
‘ten or fifteen gallons of blood are thrown out of the heart at a stroke, with immense velocity.’
 
                                    -john hunter’s account of the dissection of a whale. (a small sized one.)
 
(as qtd. In moby dick, “front matter”)
 
you thot
i was
just
a little fish
so
you stove
my heart
and
(you were shocked)
she threw out
ten
or fifteen
gallons
of blood
& with
such
immense
velocity—
i opened
my mouth
& spoke
the tongues
of
great whales
& then
i died
& then
you regretted
not knowing
the
leviathanical
size
of said heart—
& the volume
of blood
contained
therein

 



About Lara Candland

Lara Candland is a poet, librettist, performer and screenwriter. Her work has appeared in Fence, The Colorado Review, Barrow Street, Fine Madness, Unsaid, The Quarterly, and other journals. Candland was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize. She was commissioned by the Genesis Foundation for New Opera to write Sunset for Pink Pastoral, which was premiered and workshopped at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, and later performed in Salt Lake City, Vancouver, and Seattle. She performs with Lalage, a duo featuring her live electronic voice manipulations, and was a founding member and librettist for Seattle Experimental Opera. The screenplay version of Sunset with Pink Pastoral was selected as a finalist for the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriter’s Lab. In addition, Candland is an avid cook and food writer, and teaches poetry, creative writing, and food writing. Her book Alburnum of the Green and Living Tree was published by BlazeVox in 2010.