End of the Line

Guy from Halfway Cove
drags something especially heavy or attractive
along a certain stretch of bottom for months until
he finally finds the end of the Trans-Atlantic Cable.

                Alone on the ocean
with every electrolyte lifting
everything to another
dimension: as if your lucky hands could grab
numb thunder, barely holding on to an endless eel,
a gunky sculpin, or what’s left of a frozen sentence.
All those lost words left over from promises, stances
& plans – how we were now.

He marks the thing with four weir buoys
ten feet below the surface at low tide,
rigs a surplus spool to his winch & covers it all
with a blue plastic tarp, promising himself he’ll never go
near there when anyone else might guess

For starters, that copper wire can pay off
his boat & house. Then the down payment on
a secondhand transport truck, good for everything
from in-law phone poles to outlaw blueberry flats.

If you don’t get greedy, you’ll never get top-heavy.
Best price, by spool or by ton, has to include
the cost of everybody’s silence. Plus, of course,
him showing up on demand. Gotten,
begotten, forgotten, done.

But the larger artifice feels creepy
when you don’t know what to think.
Nature knows where we live.
Water & weather have minds of their own.
Who can do much of anything when
they get together to storm?

Consequences sneak in like heat-seeking spiders
& it’s a washout.
Inside a month, those markers get blown anywhere
from Signal Hill to Cape Hatteras.
Gone for good.

So there’s no end to anything.
But now, at least, he can laugh aloud at himself.
And start to come & go & know
where people go again.

Bill Howell

Bill Howell, one of the original Storm Warning poets, has had a literary career spanning five decades. His work appears regularly in journals and anthologies across Canada, in the UK, Australia, Sweden, Japan, and the US. Born in Liverpool, England, he grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and has lived in Toronto for more than half his life. Bill was a network producer-director at CBC Radio Drama for three decades. Ranging from the lyrical to the ironic, his poetry deploys colloquial language, deliberate narrative, and a sharp sense of the focused moment. Recent work: Canadian Literature, Dalhousie Review, Great Lakes Review, Literary Review of Canada, The Orchards Poetry Journal, Queen’s Quarterly, Stand, Tokyo Poetry Journal, Two Thirds North, and White Wall Review. His latest collection, The Way Things Are at the Moment, will be released later this year by the American publisher, Kelsay Books.