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  • The ocean casts up surprises
    Fragments of lives and times
    Ride the waves
    And from time to time
    Find land

    They still tell the story of Les
    Running rum in a dull black cigarette boat.
    And how Buddy
    hauled up three bales of reefer
    Dried out some good is the punchline.
    And the darker tales
    Of plastic wrapped bags of powder
    Stashed in offshore traps

    When Rooster’s boat caught fire off Plasench
    And they both jumped
    But only one man
    Swam ashore
    We walked the shores
    While the boats combed the channel
    Where the divers searched
    And the helicopter turned restless
    Circles overhead

    I have a beach combing fantasy
    One day
    Along the rugged shore
    I’ll find a suitcase
    Stained, battered
    And cuffed to the handle
    A severed hand
    On some walks I have wondered
    About the size of the fortune that could fit in a suitcase

    That day
    I was scrambling along the bank above the rocky east side of the island
    Looking for boards bleached silver grey
    To make a table
    The wind was cold out of the northeast
    And something else with it

    It took a while to figure out
    As I walked upwind, like a pointer
    Even with a two ton stink I almost didn’t see it
    Skin like old leather, tanned to a turn
    Head and fins and tail stripped away
    Just the long shaft of the body among the ledges
    Inert as any other wave tumbled trunk
    The flies and birds hadn’t found it yet so there was no crowd at the scene
    Just me and a whale and the wind and the waves

    Later we braved the smell and carried away the bones for trophies
    Ribs like scimitars
    Collar bone like a Viking axe
    A puzzle of vertebrae
    An alien craft
    Cast away
    To land
    A stranger
    On our shore
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