Extinction—The Beach Poems, Day Five

The Beach Poems, Day Five

This time it’s the Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle—a pig-faced,
dorsal-eyed, fresh-water behemoth big as hell at 220 pounds.

A few weeks ago, fervid scientists in China artificially
inseminated the last female Rafetus swinhoei in the world,

but the poor male played his part with “electro-ejaculation,”
which is all I can bear to say about that off-beat approach.

In August 2000, it was Russian sailors on the Kursk—sunk
and dying in cold, shallow waters of the Barents Sea.

While my wife and I rocked on a forward Victorian balcony
facing the curative wind and waves of Ocean Grove, NJ,

Captain-Lieutenant Dmitri Kolesnikov scribbled 23 living
names on a note in the 9th compartment of the largest attack

submarine ever built. Those stupid, fucking Russian Admirals—
how good to get that out—dallied and let dark men suffocate

in their high-chrome hull barely beneath the sea as the world
watched life and limb go down in a deluge of cable news.

At the time, my wife—I forgot to mention—was great with child,
big as the broad side of a barn to turn a phrase. So great even

strangers felt her belly in the grocery store, touched her like
a Buddha who imparts life, laid hands on the hatch & vessel

that sang I am he as you are he as you are me and we are
all together.
Oh, untimely death—see how they run, see how

they fly
. They’re flying.


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