Away from podiums where sand and fist and bottle mix,
as morning throws its fire on this eastern shore,
the sinner’s footprints set a northern path to where,
confessed once on that promontory,
he begins anew his craggy penance
over splintered rocks
on whipping paths of pandanas
past the mouths and shoulders of the land crawling out into the pacific.
Away from racketeers and white hats
who race their dogs and lean on crusts of concrete spires,
who program machines for maximum absolution,
who fail to hear the drum that beats from ocean floor and sky,
nor the whispers of the land’s intentions,
the sinner clasps the red bucket as a chalice,
holding steady in the wind –
a constant stream bearing witness to his condition.
Between chortling gutters he turns both weed and rock
in pores of the pacific empire,
between folds of silken foaming sheets,
through shells, through cracks and snails
the drums beat louder, the swell retreats
anemones wave banners from crevices heralding the ephemeral tide.
A crab taps grim rhythms with a pincer made of bone,
still she taps as when she had two.
Her defiant tempo fills the red bucket
its brittle casing, the souls of fish and all which it contains:
a temperate blade,
a brine-stained singlet entwined with wire and lead,
the final memory of a dying flathead as it chopped and churned in hopeless breaths,
now overflows once more with songs of endless ocean trenches
ruled by beasts with fins and their deities harking hollowed in the ground.
Across the anglers’ pole
stabbed in passing beyond the range of the frothing cyan styx,
the sinner takes a barb of splinters to his cheek (an offering as such)
scrambles up the jagged tabernacle,
thankful for the salty spit upon his neck,
then rests both hands and bucket against the crumbling mortar –
a bed for the dead lighthouse man.
Today he marvels at his own technique
while even gulls, irreverent as they are
squall in concert with the drums
and invite him forward to share their kingdom.