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Three poems by Don Kimball

“The Great White Whale”

– after Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, Chapters 134-136

Imagine mad Ahab’s albino beast


his behemothic bulk


plowing ferocious furrows

in the Pacific blue,

streaking a snake-like foam

in its wake;

waves like


cascading off

that coffin-shaped forehead;

his ponderous back


like a bull in the ring,

by a shock

of rusted harpoons, lances;

a seabird oddly

rocking on a shattered pole,

tail feathers,

like fluttering pennants,


Nantucket’s intrepid whale-hunters, trapped

within a whale-

whipped maelstrom.


Pity the saber-tooth cat

last seen with its spotted coat

during the late Pleistocene –

its curved canines, the size of

white bananas, piercing deep

into the neck of a sloth

once big as the bison or

a wooly mammoth; that free,

and seemingly easy snack

half-submerged in coal-tar seep,

only to be trapped with its

prey, then 10,000 years out

deemed an artifact of fate.

Pity the lion, both ears

riddled with bullet holes;

his lanky belly laid out

in dry grass, disemboweled

by a half-tusked, waggling

warthog protecting her piglets.

Pity, too, our barnyard cat,

half his mouth bitten off one

morning, by a cornered rat,

bagged by a farmer and tossed

into the Merrimack. Rings

widening in the water,

a drooling cat’s epitaph.

Pity them all except the rat.

Ex Nihilo

inspired by Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

A dot,

so dense, so hot,

it shot in all directions – space

fat with matter, time and energy,

in no time flat

inflating that starless extremity

like a bell-shaped balloon

with a ghostly afterglow.

Was it luck or by design

this sublime, forever-

expanding evening sky in time

spurred, like a burst of fireworks,

billions of galaxies

wheeling like whirligigs – each one

spangling hundreds of billions

of suns such as our own? This

swirling universe undulating;

at times, so agitated

some bleeding star

yawns a hole

too deep for us to plumb.

Don Kimball is the author of three chapbooks, Tumbling (Finishing Line Press 2016), Journal of a Flatlander (Finishing Line Press 2009) and Skipping Stones (Pudding House Publications 2008) and he has a full-length book of poetry, Late Autumn, Raking (Kelsay Books), coming out soon. Don is a longstanding member of the Powow River Poets and the former president of the Poetry Society of N.H.

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