At the Wheel of the Pilar, Ernest Hemingway Addresses the Breezes off the Coast of Cuba

In his booming, amphitheatrical voice, he calls out: 
Our Father Who Art in Nada, Nada Be Thy Name.

And if the wingbeats of the gulls are God’s answer, 
they are also the wingbeats of gulls and only that.

He keeps the .32 Smith & Wesson at his waist. 
Loaded and holstered—the gun his father shot 

himself with. He says that the heirloom pistol
is for bull sharks. It’s June, 1941. And the war

in Europe isn’t being staged for this American, 
but it beats offering $100 to all comers to box

on the docks: bareknuckled or with the gloves.
In any war, the moon is still the moon and men

like this man up to God knows what for Glory.
Everyone on the island is sleeping in the nude

and with a window open, praying for a breeze.
With a crew and a Thompson submachine gun, 

again he patrols the north coast to Cayo Confites.
Again, wafers of moon transubstantiate in waves

scarving the hull in all waters, littoral and pelagic.
Again he wants to sink a U-boat with short-fuse

munitions, hand grenades. Rationed diesel fuel
feeds the 75-horse Chrysler, low engine-echo

unbuilding the dark, encouraging shore birds
to change rooms in their houses by the sea.

 

 

About the Author: Roy Bentley is the recipient of six Ohio Arts Council fellowship awards, as well as fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, North American Review, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. He is the author of four collections of poetry: Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama), Any One Man (Bottom Dog Books), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine Press), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House Press). He lives in Pataskala, Ohio.