Little Emerson

06 September 2005



What is travel and what is it for? Any sunset is the sunset; there is no point in seeing it in Constantinople.

Fernando Pessoa

But the sun also rises.

This is the first time in a long time that I’ve been out of my country without carrying poetry along. I usually take a couple of books with me. I’ve travelled with Shakespeare, Pessoa, Baudelaire, but never with the moderns. I like to fly with those that never flew, that never had that sensation. They could only imagine it so that our imagination might be best for us.

This time I am away without them. Without you, whoever you may be. The shop here at Little Emerson is unattended, almost dusty, I presume. I am not with it or near it. I cannot attend it from far away. There is e-mail to be answered, submissions to consider, things to be done, but there is little I can do at this time.

In some book I read sometime about someone in a sailboat named “Islander” calling at this very island where I must remain for some time, perhaps another month. Here I will be in a dry-dock with men running about—seamen looking for whores—working and wanting to go home. Is that all I can say about them? What is it about a place that is home? How my perspective differs from that of that intrepid sailor who was here in 1925, I think, in the very same dry-dock where our vessel stands high and dry, or tied to the same mooring. How did he find this speck of land? It feels so strange to walk about on the same docks he stepped upon.

But all must be left unattended. Home will be the place to be, to carry on, sailing.


for Fernando

The mate lay dead a porno
tape stuck-frozen-on-the-screen.
The crew joked maidens in distress
laughed about his drinking;
the image remained of a man
“naked half-way”. (Awkward centaur
writing in the log.)

“Can someone confirm he’s dead?”

The night before the order was telling in a way.
Dinner in the galley. Complaints—
pots pans swaying spilling
diesel stove stew ice cream cake.

Haul in.

After the catch we went on deck.
Indian Ocean fire. “A night for lovers,” he said.
Thinking of places. Off the coast of Chile further south still Ushuaia
sky burning just like this tonight.

“I lack the words…that talk…sun melting over mountains.…”

His foot on the rail naked
toes curling on steel. A few hours of rest
coming “till that same sun rises again and again”.

The mate was dead.
How true the master’s ear on his chest.

Rudder full to starboard—I cannot tell—
Venus shining.
Counted sailor days. (I’ll not say—God forbid—shimmering sun-rise!)

Almost there, steady. Land.