National Poetry Month Day 7: Chaun Webster

By

 

 

 

 

Pip jumps the Pequod after hallucinating about the human and subsequently giving up on land: Movie Pitch

it   begins  with  a  fever  dream.   Pip  haunted  by  the ground  he stands on.
something   terrifying   about   its   sureness,  its   carcerality.  no   it   begins
somewhere  in   his   torn-open  throat—slit  wide   by   a   harpoon—camera
panning  each angle of  Pip’s neck  as he  wails: LOOK, A NEGRO!  it  begins
with  nothing:  screen  black—dark  as  the  ocean  floor.  no,  it   begins  with
something: a body, itself both more and less than one,  laying on the deck of
the     Pequod    attempting     to      float—misjudging     the      surface     for
water—mistaking   his  lack   of  sinking  for  buoyancy.  no   it  begins with  a
disavowal, of land, with Pip tasting  that saltwater and it doing something like
the opposite of stripping him of wings.  Pip jumps  the  Pequod, no, it begins.

 

 

Wherein Pip concludes his body is not single and self-identical. Wherein Pip determines he is also the whale, and swallows the Pequod: Movie Pitch

it  is unclear  where on the journey  Pip decided a single body was unsuitable,
but each day he would work  depths of 40 feet, then  80 feet, then twice that
again. it  begins  by  learning  not so much  to  hold  one’s  breath  but  how to
better distribute the oxygen. a shrinking of  the spleen, a releasing  of oxygen
rich   blood    cells—one   learns   to  slow    the   heart  rate.  one   remembers
something  of  theirself that began  in the water. what if the distance between
the  whale and  the belly of  the whale were imagined were nothing more than
a  myth?  what if Pip  could  insist on  other  folk  tales? on  an  assemblage of
materials  and  temporalities continually passing through  them? then it is not
so much a stretch to say one relegated to silence, the speculative position of
the non-human animal, is  also the  whale. that Pip could  make new things of
their  body  and swallow  whole   the  things  carrying the  so-called  old.  it is
unclear  where on  the journey Pip  mades  these  new things of his body, but
who rides the Pequod when they can ride the ocean?

 

***
Author photo courtesy of author


Chaun Webster is a poet and graphic designer living in Minneapolis whose work interrogates blackness and being as a way to interrogate the world. Webster’s debut book, Gentry!fication: or the scene of the crime, was published by Noemi Press in 2018, and received the 2019 Minnesota Book Award for poetry. More from this author →