Exegesis of the First Words Spoken (Ishmael)

By Dan Beachy-Quick b. 1973 Dan Beachy-Quick
Scholar-on-waves, a water-gazer,
Call me

Ishmael. Re-enter my own life.
Waves: they murmur, babble, waves

Do not articulate what the ocean
Turning in its bed thinks: What must be said.

          Sing above or sing
          The knot in the plank, the cursive
          Of my life in the bow and my life

          Bay-less in the bowels
          Of the bow

I signed myself on as me
                                     to become more so
A study, one volume of 36 signatures, 576 pages (9 blank for notes),
And became dispossessed of all
                                              but one mis-
                                              spoken leaf—
Pro- and epilogue both. Sign your mark. I do

Find the escape

Clause titled in fine print, watermarked, on condition

Of being or becoming: me

Tar-dark, thumbless or thumbed,
Ocean eats the nib of pen
But a nub dipped in pitch

          Sing above or sing below
          The wave’s back
          Broken by another wave

          There is no air besides

A nub dipped in pitch
Can’t help

But write, beneath the sea-hawk’s wing
The sea-hawk’s cry, Sign your mark

With a nail, a splinter, a harpoon
In the hand can’t help

          Sing above and sing below
But write but
          What song strides surface tension
Help but write
          Thirst chokes and salt slakes
A contract for a name

Of being or becoming
Ink on the line, a name or a contract

For a name, a thumbprint, or I
Signed me on on my name alone: Now

Profit Now Leak Now Bury Now Speak.

Dan Beachy-Quick, “Exegesis of the First Words Spoke (Ishmael)” from Spell. Copyright © 2004 by Dan Beachy-Quick. Reprinted by permission of Ahsahta Press.

Source: Spell (2004)

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Poet Dan Beachy-Quick b. 1973

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

 Dan  Beachy-Quick


Poet and essayist Dan Beachy-Quick was born in Chicago and raised in Colorado and upstate New York. He was educated at Hamilton College, the University of Denver, and the University of Iowa.

Beachy-Quick's poetry collections include North True South Bright (2003); Spell (2004); Mulberry (2006), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for poetry; This Nest, Swift Passerine (2009); and Circle's Apprentice (2011). He is also . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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