AHAB'S OBSESSION

" ... foreboding shivers ran over me.  Reality outran apprehension ...

Captain Ahab stood upon his quarter-deck."

Chapter 111 – The Pacific

 

Tis not the whale

who fouls the waters,

filled with rage

and past forgetting.

Tis not the whale

who hunts the man

and curses a day he

keeps regretting.

Tis man alone

who plots and schemes

and lies awake

and cannot dream.

Tis man alone

who seals his fate

by losing his soul

to so much hate.

Chapter 132 – The Symphony

I

Is it I, God, or who,

that lifts this arm

 to such a sky

up where melodies lie

and breezes sing

and soothe and conjure up

home and wife and boy

and a pillow left behind

that quietly beckon.

 

And if the great sun itself,

that doth shine down on us all,

be but an errand-boy in heaven –

what of me?

 

What power hath I

when this tune turns to

ravings and dark thoughts

to nail me to a vendetta

as surely as a butterfly

pinned to a page,

with no escape.

Can I lift this arm,

cast out this craving,

and

find another song?

Let’s Connect

Chapter  16 – The Ship

A ship in the harbor
a ship not at sea
is no ship at all,
strange and solitary.
A ship with no captain,
though in sunlight it gleams
is not yet alive, only
mere joints and beams.
But when sails unfurl
and Ahab walks the deck
and the salt spray stings
the back of my neck,
then the Pequod reigns
and comes into its own
with the deep blue its kingdom
and the white waves its throne.

Chapter  28 – Ahab

On deck.
At last.
Seen by all
but still a mystery.
Surrounded by the crew
yet still alone.
Captain of his ship
yet idle, for 
all tasks, all duties
have been assigned.
While Ahab 
Waits.

Chapter  29– Enter Ahab; To Him, Stubb

Perfumed, overflowing, redundant days
and twinkling stars ‘gainst
a black velvet sky.
Magical, mesmerizing . . .
and missed by our captain.
Too busy seething
to notice.

Chapter  30 – The Pipe

Even the simplest things
bring no pleasure 
when the mind is
poisoned 
and the heart 
distracted.

Chapter  36 – The Quarter Deck

~ Past Hearing ~
‘To be enraged with a dumb thing,
Captain Ahab, seems blasphemous.’

 
~ Past Seeing ~
‘Naught beyond 
that white wall.’

 
~ Past Reason ~
‘I’d strike the sun
 if it insulted me.’

 
Chapter  37 – Sunset
 
By ever–brimming goblet’s rim,
the warm waves blush like wine.
Ahab, moved by such a scene,
suspects he has not yet
crossed the line completely,
for if he can mourn this lack of joy
and see that loneliness is anguish to him,
then surely there is hope
and God has not abandoned him.

Chapter  41 – Moby–Dick
 
Gnawed within and scorched without.
Will there be anything left when all is done?
Of what is a man made?
Blood and bones and brute force
masquerade as Ahab,
but one must dig deeper
to find the real man.
Many have lost a battle
or even a limb
without losing heart and soul.
Ahab has made his choice
and will not turn back.

Chapter  44 – The Chart
 
Eyes on the prize
Nose to the stone
Ahab’s single-minded purpose
drives his days   
and ravages his dreams, 
like 
Escaping from a bed 
that was on fire
No rest
No peace
No distractions.

Chapter  46 – Surmises
 
Play your part, Ahab.
While your right eye
looks for your precious prey,
your left eye tends to the Pequod.
Pay your crew, keep them occupied
and they will not complain –
or worse, mutiny.
You will need them
on your side
at the first sign
of the White Whale.

Chapter  50 – Fedallah

Ahab’s unholy pursuit,
his single–minded revenge,
requires rare and
specialized assistance -
no run of the mill seamen
serve on this captain’s team,
and none are asked.
A hand-picked crew board secretly
and hide below,
emerging only when needed.
Starbuck, Flask and Stubb
take it in stride.

Chapter  70 – The Sphinx

Shared atoms and linked analogies…
musings of a demented mind
occasionally ring true
and offer Ahab a moment’s
enlightenment.
A whale goes where no man goes
and sees what no man will ever see.
What could a whale tell a man
that man does not know?
Ahab plunges deep and explores
without ever moving
from the deck of his ship.

Chapter 100 – Leg and Arm. The Pequod of Nantucket
Meets the Samuel Enderby of London

Spin me the yarn,
says Ahab, eyes sharp,
no time for small talk.
Stick to the point.
Tell me where the
white whale wanders
and I’ll be gone.

Chapter 106 – Ahab’s Leg

Even a ship’s carpenter
cannot mend a dead bone.
He must start from scratch,
enlisting leftover ivory
from recent kills,
making them unwilling
accomplices in Ahab’s
deadly business.

Chapter 108 – Ahab and The Carpenter

A man on a voyage of revenge
loathes being slowed down
by phantom nerves that,
like haunted memories,
tingle, stab and chafe
a leg no longer there.
Grim reminders
that stop Ahab 
not at all.

Chapter 109 – Ahab and Starbuck in the Cabin

'Beware of thyself, old man,'
warns Starbuck,
long years with Ahab
shoring up his resolve
to speak candidly -
hang the consequences.
A shred of prudence or
perhaps remorse,
even decency,
calms the furrows
in Ahab’s brow,
reminding him for
one brief moment
that lunacy
is a choice.

Chapter 113 – The Forge

For Ahab’s long-anticipated kill
only the finest weapons will do,
imagined through comfortless nights
as he tosses and turns
in sweat and sheets 
and endured through
bleak days as he endlessly
paces the deck,
the thonk of his alabaster leg
an unrelenting reminder that
fuels obsessive revenge.

Chapter 115 – The Pequod Meets The Bachelor
 
Success breeds success,
likewise grim resolve.
Might such a morbid  
mission end well?
Restore a leg?
Revive a heart?
Renew the reason
a man goes to sea
in the first place?
Is rebirth possible?
Yes.
Not by the Creator,
but by the man himself.

Chapter 117 - The Whale Watch

Floating in and out of sleep
beside his kill
in the empty, bleak night,
Ahab dreams of death, with
visions of hearses and gallows
startling him awake.
‘Immortal on land and on sea,’
he insists, with a hollow laugh,
fooling no one. 
Least of all himself.

Chapter 118 – The Quadrant

Ask the impossible from a mere tool
and prepare to toss it aside in disgust.
Far better to seek a
psychic, a fortune teller
or even a shooting star
to guide you to that one spot
among all others
where Moby-Dick
lies in wait.

Chapter 119 – The Candles

The flame that can’t be snuffed
not by breath nor breeze nor wave,
burns a hole deep inside Ahab
and keeps the old man enslaved.
‘The sea will have its way,’ says Stubb,
and so a sailor believes.
But the sea is no match for the fire
by which Ahab is deceived.
It seers his eyes as he stands before
lightning, torch and typhoon.
Yet all he sees is Moby–Dick
‘Soon,’ he promises, ‘Soon.’



Chapter 120 – The Deck Towards the End of the
First Night Watch

And so
the decline begins.
Claws of mania
encircle
clutch
choke all reason.
Sinking into the depths,
Ahab shouts and threatens,
patience long discarded and
tunnel vision turning him
not only blind but deaf.
.Save your breath,
my Captain,
Moby-Dick cannot hear you.

Chapter 125 – The Log and Line

In the midst of obsession
and delusion
beats a heart –
“Thou touchest my
inmost centre, boy,”
says Ahab to little Pip,
taking him by the hand.
So lies a sliver of hope,
a faint recognition of
what a man once was
before madness took hold.
But life holds thee; not thou it,
and Ahab’s destiny awaits him.

Chapter 128 – The Pequod Meets The Rachel

Camaraderie
Kinship
Fatherhood
Mercy
All wiped out
in one incomprehensible moment
of callous disregard –
“Captain Gardiner, I will not do it.”
A revengeful heart is
full to the brim
with room for naught else.

Chapter 130 – The Hat

Ahab’s iron soul
shuns all
but his intended prey.
Like the workhorse
Hate wears blinders,
and sees not left nor right,
but only straight ahead to
its narrow destination.

Chapter 131 – The Pequod Meets the Delight

So close, so close, so close
Only a day away
See there, that tattered whaleboat …
Over yonder, a foolish victim sliding
into his watery grave ...
Only yesterday men faced
the White Whale but
were no match for him – 
Ha!
He is mine, all mine ...
and I am closing in.

Chapter 133 – The Chase – First Day

In a culmination of
frenzied anticipation,
the ultimate prize presents itself.
Rising from the waves with
a hump like a snow-hill . . .
MOBY-DICK AT LAST!
Ahab is ready.
Fearless.
And tossed
overboard.