Poets corner: Ishmael Reconsidered, or The Protagonist


Ishmael Reconsidered, or The Protagonist

In which Ishmael, having learned of the publication of “Ahab’s Wife,” cries out for

our attention.

Call me simply Queequeg.

I didn’t survive the cruise.

Captain and Leviathan,

They had to pay their dues.

Call me First Mate Starbuck.

I wish I hadn’t sailed.

I went for fame and fortune

And unfortunately got whaled.

Call me Pip, the Cabin Lad.

Ahab was my man.

His heart was set on murder

But the big fish called his hand.

Call me King-Post Stubb, 3rd Mate.

Tashtego, Fedallah, Daggoo,

We all went down together

Along with Pequod too.

And finally, CALL ME ISHMAEL!

They got what they deserved.

They were only minor characters.

The PROTAGONIST the served!

Lower away! Stand-by the crew!

The whale! The ship! Oars! Oars!

When old man Herman wrote me up

He surrounded me with bores.

Only Ahab and Moby bright

Were worthy of my road, and

Thanks to our god, Uncle Mel,

I reaped what others sowed.

Ah, most unfair are Fortune’s tithes!

Bad reapers never get Good Scythes.

Rob Burnside

Rob Burnside, a yearly visitor to Edgartown, is a retired firefighter and published poet (Chapbook “Falling Off the Bone” currently available on Amazon) from Swoyersville, Penn.

The Martha’s Vineyard Times welcomes contributions to Poet’s Corner. Dan Waters, former poet laureate of West Tisbury, will select poems to be published here. Submissions should be directed to dan@indianhillpress.com.