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Tempest Miller

Weary and on a fishermen’s boat, cap pulled down over eyes. Do you remember when we
failed at school? Not just at the academic side but every side. How we could never assail
anything. We had to hurl ourselves to the ocean and rub shoulders with the dolphins.
Sometimes it feels like you’re going mad out here, like Ahab, and that it’s so quite it’s loud
and colossal, like the sky, just huge and unfolding. Other times it seems I’m never more at
peace. That old question of are you happy? I don’t know how people can answer it. and
indeed when they do I don’t know how much I can really think of them as people. The job of
anyone alive is to delight in mood swings and changes, to hurl themself onto the rocks of life
like a beached and resplendent mermaid. Waking up one person and going to sleep another,
living a million lives in one. It is dawn and everyone is on deck, even the cooks. We watch as
our dear captain hurls onboard an almighty shark, plucked from the ocean floor. It wriggles
around and dies, seems so large and heavy it could sink us. They are gutting the shark. I pull
my cap back down. I think how we are all meat and tissue and how when a shark pulls the
flesh from a man it is gone for ever and leaves nothing but bone and cartilage. But what use is
it in thinking? Inane thoughts for inane people and runaways. Relax, be absent, do not
scrutinise, whatever you do. Life should be strange.

This poem originally appeared in Miller's 2024 chapbook Whale Oil.

Tempest Miller is a writer from the UK. His work has appeared in Swamp Pink, JAKE and Boats Against the Current. He releases a monthly chapbook on Amazon. He lives between a building and a lake.

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