IN DEFENSE OF THE WHALE

“He swam the seas before the continents broke water.”

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 116 – The Dying Whale

I am buoyed by breaths

of once living things.

We are all connected,

all yearning towards

the same fiery sun that

gives us life, yet burns

undisturbed and unmoved

when we perish.

So we turn away and sigh,

leaving life to those

who come after.

Chapter 105 – Does the Whale's Magnitude Diminish?—Will He Perish?

“He swam the seas

before the continents  

broke water,”

Ishmael muses,

as he eyes the slaughter.

Are they declining, asks

the man with a conscience.

Will they be diminished, says

the man, with prescience.

To cheer himself, he turns

to other beasts hunted,

claiming them all

equally confronted.

Buffalos, elephants,

brothers to the whale,

living creatures turned into

products for sale.

Chapter 104 – The Fossil Whale

Man stares out over the vast ocean,

at gray blue swells

as far as the eye can see,

and feels reduced to

the size of a thimble or 

a cork that bobs powerlessly on

on the endless surface, no more

substantial than a dot on a map

and as insignificant 

as the gargantuan leviathan

who, spotted miles away, 

seems but a dot himself  

on the boundless vista.

Man stares next into earth’s vast history,

at eons of time and space 

and experience without his presence,

and feels dwarfed once again,

an infinitesimal speck,

but this time not joined

by the Ancient Whale,

who populated the planet

and explored the seas

some 40 million years ago,

when man ‘twas not 

even a dream.

Chapter  57 – Of Whales in Paint; in Teeth; in Wood; in Sheet-Iron;

    in Stone; in Mountains; in Stars 

Man hunts whale

whale does not hunt man.

And yet could, for there are

many more whales than ships,

a whale outweighs man and is in

his element in the vast ocean, and

man needs to be propped up in

wooden buckets that crack and

break like teacups when the

mighty forces of weather and 

waves work against him.

And all the while, the

whale glides by or

slips below

to reemerge at his leisure

when the sea is smooth as glass.

Chapter  58 – Brit

We plow through

the yellow feeding fields

their home

their harvest

their sea

without an inkling

we've no right to do so.

“The cannibalism of the sea,”

says Man,

"Tis merely nature’s balance."

But man is the intruder here,

an interloper from

the most docile earth,

who makes it

his life’s work

to Kill.

  

Chapter  61 – Stubb Kills a Whale

~ From Where I Sit ~

The Whale is a living, breathing

force of life

with as much right

to roam the seas

as I have the earth.

Its blood flows, its pulse pounds

its appetite drives it forward,

and its joy as it leaps up

through the waves

must surely satisfy.

~ From Where You Sit ~

The Whale is a creature

born merely to serve you

and makes not

the slightest difference

except as a day’s work.

Your blood flows, your pulse pounds

your appetite drives you forward,

and your joy as you stalk him

through the waves

does surely satisfy.

Chapter  55 – Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales
 
To do the whale justice with
pen, chalk or brush
ye must see him live,
in the flesh.
‘Tho ye run no small risk
out here at sea,
of bein’ undone
by yer curiosity.
 
Chapter  64 – Stubb’s Supper
 
Does a whale have a soul?
When his last breath
leaves his body,
what happens
to the urge
to swim
to dive
to rise high
above the waves,
eat his fill of krill and
later, come back for more?
Tethered alongside the Pequod,
‘tis only a lifeless carcass now,
its once vibrant life force
returned to Nature
and welcomed back
into the fold.

Chapter   65 – The Whale as a Dish

All living beings are related.
'Tis true.
We share the same earth,
breathe the same air, 
are warmed by the same sun.
Without ever doing harm to
our fellow creatures,
we could have plenty to eat,
yet
Some of Us
have gotten it into our heads
that 'these' are for petting,
and 'those' are for stalking
and killing
and eating.
Some of Us.

Chapter  66 – The Shark Massacre

Murder begets murder
To protect the bounty
of a slain whale
sailors attack and kill
sharks at their dinner
and the sea runs
Red

Chapter  67 – Cutting In (in lieu of)

Up and down,
through the rows of our garden
we meander,
selecting tonight’s supper.
Dazzling greens
Weighty gourds
Succulent citrus.
And all the while,
fresh bread rises and bakes with
its intoxicating aroma
wandering
around window panes
in search of our nostrils.
A meal void of suffering
satisfies the senses
and the
Soul.

Chapter  68 – The Blanket

In the midst of
cutting the carnage,
herein we see
the rare virtue
of a strong individual vitality.
Man conquers nature once again.
But it takes many men
to accomplish the deed
and only one to question it
and begin to think of
a better way.

Chapter  69 – The Funeral

Oh, Horrible vultureism of earth!
No one mourns this whale
Let me
Remember a life
Once mighty and free
Let me
Sing his praises now he’s dead
A melancholy song inside my head
Never forgetting 
He ruled the seas
Let me
Let me
Let me

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  74   The Sperm Whale’s Head –   Contrasted Views

The Whale
has two eyes with two views,
and simultaneously sees two sides
to every situation.
Man
has two eyes with one view,
and only sees straight ahead.
Yet, Man claims,
the former is inferior - yea,
inconvenient, even dangerous!
He forgets that
each can turn his head
to take in the whole picture
whenever he chooses.
Still 
Man’s way 
is deemed superior 
and all that makes sense,
for Man truly does see 
only one view.
His Own.

Chapter  75  The Right Whale’s Head – Contrasted
Views

1.
Break apart a whale’s fins 
- these hogs’ bristles -
and from them build the ladies
their busks and other contrivances
that lift and constrict every breath.
And to what end?
Vanity.
Man’s sport
becomes woman’s torture.
‘Ah, but what of the oil,’ 
you say,
‘The oil lights the world’
And I say the price paid –
the suffering, the slaughter –
is too steep.

The Right Whale’s Head – Contrasted Views

2.
Ancient dames moved about gaily
Above and beneath the sea
A playground, dining table, kingdom
For creatures ever joyful and free
 
Creatures ever joyful and free
Gracefully and powerfully ruled
Over miles and oceans and eons
And their offspring they carefully schooled
 
Their offspring they carefully schooled
From blowhole to brit to baleen
In charge of all that was ‘round them
And then came man in between
 
And then came man in between
Setting his sights far and wide
Craving what lay beyond him
He could never be satisfied
 
He could never be satisfied
On the oceans he would be king
More, ever more, not enough
Til he’d plundered everything.

Chapter 76 – The Battering Ram

Majestic green tower of the forest
reaches up 
to the vaulted skies.
Massive grey power of the seas
dives down 
to the deepest depths.
Each chopped up, 
lined up,
and turned into
mere commodities
with a price set
by indifferent man.
A mass of tremendous life …
estimated as piled wood is – by the cord.

Chapter 77   The Great Heidleburgh Tun

Killing
is a fastidious occupation.
Step by step,
as in a long cherished recipe,
care is taken
to dismantle
this magnificent creature
who evolved through the ages,
and kills never
for sport or profit
but merely to
Survive.

Chapter 79 – The Prairie
 
Sum me up as you will
I have no need to explain
Nothing to prove.
The ever invasive curiosity of man
must be satisfied
but I need not justify
my existence
to those who seek to destroy me.

Chapter  80 – The Nut

With a whale to behold
right up close,
and a combination of
observation and guesswork,
Ishmael analyzes
the inside and outside
of a creature 
who swam the seas 
millions of years
before man arrived
and draws his own
erroneous conclusions.

Chapter 85 – The Fountain

The snowy sparkling mist
effervescing above a whale
as he emerges from the deep
in a swirl of prodigious commotion
mystifies a sailor who has time on his hands.
Astonished and delighted,
but not content with spectacle
said sailor strives to understand -
the human anatomy serving as his only reference.
Can he make sense of this curious creature
with misplaced windpipe, no nostrils and a
gargantuan ability to hold his breath?
And what of that mist - or is it water -
shooting towards the sky?
He dare not get close enough to find out.
 
Chapter  87 – The Grand Armada
 
Amidst chaos,
tumult and brutality
lies an oasis of
tranquility,
an innermost fold of
warm, protected waters
where new mothers,
near enough for a
sailor’s gentle touch,
float below the
transparent surface
calmly nursing their
young, who gaze
dreamily into the
distance but do
not see their own
future fighting
futilely for its life.

Chapter  88 – Schools and Schoolmasters
 
The Lord whale is on patrol,
Covering the flight of his ladies
Three times their size, he takes control
In their leisurely search of variety.
 
Covering the flight of his ladies
He battles suitors who intrude.
In their leisurely search of variety,
'Tis he – only he – rules his brood.
 
He battles suitors who intrude
Through this watery world as they wander
'Tis he – only he – rules his brood
Swimming hither, thither and yonder.
 
Through this watery world as they wander
The schoolmaster reigns – vital, strong
Swimming hither, thither and yonder
Until a younger Grand Turk comes along.

The schoolmaster reigns – virile, strong
As he and his harem do roam
Until a younger Grand Turk comes along.
Sending Lord whale off on his own.

Chapter 89 – Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish

Man grabs what he wants
Nailed down or not
‘Twas ever so.
Like it?
Take it.
Until there is
Nothing left.

Chapter 92 – Ambergris

“Sown in dishonor
but raised in glory,”
out of suffering
comes riches,
If not for the whale himself,
then for the scavengers
that pursue him.
Either way,
a life lived
free and wild and pure,
once finished,
leaves behind
a rich and fragrant
remembrance.
 
Chapter 95 – The Cassock

Nothing is off–limits
in the decimation of
a species.
no part holy
or respected but
instead mere fodder for
abuse or entertainment.
R.I.P.

Chapter 102 – A Bower in the Arsacides
 
I Looked Down 
in the stillness
as lush grass glistened and
shards of sunlight made
patterns on the leafy vines
that crawled around and through 
a white, worshipped 
skeleton.
 
I Looked Up 
at the outline
of such a creature who
soared up through the waves,
down to the depths,
and imagined it
boldly, 
thrillingly, alive.

Chapter 103 – Measurement of The Whale’s  Skeleton
 
Inches and yards do not mark
the true worth of any creature -
not whale nor man.
Ask the poet,
call in the philosopher,
to mine the meaning of
such a creature
whose immensity, character,
and soaring energy
display none of the 
calculation or
manipulation
of its captor. 
 
Chapter 104 -– The Fossil Whale

Man stares out over the vast ocean,
at gray-blue swells undulating
as far as the eye can see,
and feels reduced to
the size of a thimble
or a cork bobbing powerlessly
on the endless surface, no more
substantial than a dot on a map
and as insignificant as
the gargantuan leviathan
who, spotted miles away,
seems but a dot himself on
the boundless vista.
 
Man stares next into earth’s vast history,
at eons of time and
space and experience
without his presence,
and feels dwarfed once again,
a mere speck,
but this time not joined
by the Ancient Whale,
who populated the planet
and explored the seas
some 40 million years ago,
when man ‘twas not
even a dream.