Stephen Dunn

Stephen Crane in Longport


Occasionally the weak survive

because the god that doesnít exist

wants to give us something to misinterpret.

Thatís what Crane was thinking

as he washed up on Longport beach.

He seemed to remember the afterlife

had been a boat forever lost

in the doldrums of the sea.Ý Then a storm,

the boatís captain thrown overboard,

suddenly captain of nothing,

waves buffeting him and his crew

until they surrendered and went under.

He saw a man, suntanned, hairy-chested,

squatting near a dune, eating something

heíd pulled fom a bag.Ý It was

(by the expression on the manís face) bitter

though the man kept on eating

as if he couldnít get enough.Ý Crane felt

he was dreaming a writerís dream; heíd arrived

in a world he himself had made.

By this time many people from town

were making their way toward him.

No, they walked right by

as if they were pursuing the horizon.

Itís pointless, Crane wanted to say,

wherever youíre all going.

But he knew theyíd think he was lying,

or maybe not even hear him.