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the red whale

amarah ennis

knowing you persuades me more than the bible of our immortality.
herman melville to nathaniel hawthorne, nov. 1851

for months

we have trailed him.


the red whale.


and the very air 


of brine, and sulfur.


elusive, awful


waves jump into view

and the sun-sets

them aflame.


hair stuck

wild with sea salt

heat and fatigue we

ready our harpoons.


be my anchor.

i shall be yours and

we will keep steady

in this roiling tempest.


tonight we

duel a demon

the lord leviathan who


the water he touches

who crushes and swallows

and swallows

without teeth.


vanity save us

make us immortal

burn our faces

in the crest

of each wave

our names

in the roar

of the sea

oh, but the devil

will not be damned

his ragged flukes

a whip

a shield

a cannon.


hold my hand.

we will shoot


at this beast that

torments us

in our waking hours

in our dreams

in our fantasies.


was it i

or you

who slayed that


our pride is lost

in water


churning red


red like blood like


plunging your hand

into my chest


plunging my hand

into yours.


lash the 

crimson king

to the ship

and so too

will we wrap

our chains.

you to me

me to you.

pull his crown of


from his head.

we will swim

against each other


reigning over

rich oil tides.


peel his ribmeat

from his bones.

we’ll raise those

ivory scaffolds as our

wedding arches.

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