Montreal River-Gogebic County, MI

Bad Year Anthem

"Who can face the sea and not inherit its lonliness?"
Olin Ivory

Gray sky, gray sea-gray mind, the man thinks. He thinks:
To grow old with it and kicks a stone in the water.
He mucks at the seams and it crumbles below him
A sea gull breaks a crab, flights vertical and drops
it to the rocks. The man cracks with laughter,
tossing a stone to a stone.
Working alone means the voice must grow louder,
for who can stand to think quietly all through the day's calculations?
I cannot. Let the voice grow loud. I let the voice
hum outside my body in distinguishable phrasings, and count
the increments as I set the fence according to the blade. All day
I stand before the blade and push things into its path.
I stand aside as what is removed is whisked alongside me.
The smallest particle of what is removed thicken the air,
making a dream inside one cannot live. All day
the voice is learning how to be outside the body.
A man is not a beach, nor is he stone, though he collects their entirety
in a single thought. He works alone and his thoughts begin to
smack of stone. His teeth clatter with their collection.
A man can hold a secret between his teeth,
and it will never leave his mouth, for who would listen
to his wavering tune of so sad and how hard and hear
anything original? He is that he is-the errand and the fool
running to himself over and over only to find that even he
is tired of telling about it. To grow old with it
was the task, and the question always: would he last?
A man can believe in the body and have no one,
as though he were ghost
or stone, nothing to speak at or be heard from.
All work, no pay makes a body bray.
Thought he may bray-
Though he may bray and bray,
forgive him the bit. If he tells you his secret,
he will have no secret.
This is how one sings a sentence into stone
Matthew Nienow
Poetry Magazine, Fall 2013