Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 34: I’m not trying to get away from myself anymore…

fathers-sons-ivan-turgenev-paperback-cover-art“That’s a wonderful piece honey, it reads like poetry,” She put the magazine on the coffee table.

“Thanks… the poet laureate of Conset Bay,” Morgan said smiling.

“Yeah.”

“Well finish your coffee and we’ll take Dylan down to the water.”

“Shuwa,” said Olivia, feigning a New York accent and smiling like an Armstrong pinup.

Morgan put a copy of the magazine into his filing cabinet and noticed a yellowed note stuck against the inside of the drawer. He went cold.

Olivia moved closer, noticing the change in his disposition.

“What is it honey?”

Morgan handed her the note.

“I think I’ve mentioned Psalm.”

“Yeah he… your old friend from the islands, right?”

She read out loud,

“I’m sorry, I just can’t,

I killed them”

“What is…

“Aristotle told me… Psalm had gone to some sort of ‘love-in’ with his wife and their daughter. There was a lot of stuff going around, you know, it was like 1970, the height of psychedelia. On the way home he crashed his car, killing his wife and daughter.”

“Oh no Morgan… that’s why…”

“Yeah… and he did a lot of acid after that.”

Images of Vietnam and Woodstock flashed into Morgan’s mind. He then saw his Uncle Norman as his father described him, and finally Uncle Jack in his dress blues.

The phone rang. Morgan walked to the coffee table where the phone was sitting next to a copy of SEA. On it’s cover it read “Melville’s Ghost” by Morgan Blake. He picked up the phone and Olivia picked up the other line.

“Hello.”

“Morgan, it’s your father.”

Morgan smiled and breathed.

“Hey dad, it’s been a while.”

“A few years.”

“Almost five.”

“Well your mom prevailed on me…”

“How’s mom.”

“She’s good and we’re good. I’ll understand if you’re still angry with me and…”

“Angry? I’ve been hoping for this. I’m glad you called. I hope you don’t mind but I wanted to…”

“It was my move,” William interrupted, “Your mom saw your article in that magazine and I called the office.”

“You know dad, it’s ok. We’re ‘baptizing’ our boy today.”

“Another Blake,” William said excitedly.

“Yeah, the name goes on.”

“We’re only a few of hours away. Had to get back to the East.”

“Dad…”

“Go ahead Morgan.”

“Thanks for everything you did before I ever knew that you were doing anything for me. I know you did your best.”

“I, Morgan, I…” William’s voice trailed off and Morgan knew he was crying.

“I’m ok with everything dad.”

“Can we get together soon? Your mother would love to see you… and I would too kid.”

“Door’s always open.”

“What’s my grandson’s name?”

“Dylan…”

“After Dylan Thomas.” William finished, “perfect.”

“We’re in Conset Bay dad, had to get away.”

“I know about getting away.”

“I guess you do.”

“I’m not trying to get away from myself anymore.”

“Well good, your grandson’s going to want to have you around, all of you.”

“When will we see you?”

“Next week is Thanksgiving and Livy’s mother will be here. Why don’t you and mom come then? Just call when you get to the island.”

“Fantastic Morgan… we’ll look forward to it”

“Perfect… I love you dad.”

“I love you too Morgan.”

“Tell mom I’ll talk to her then.”

“See ya soon.”

“Yeah, see ya kid.”

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Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 33: Morgan’s Intro to the Premier Issue of SEA magazine

Peche du Cachalot by Ambroise Louis Garneray and Frederic Martens, 1835
Peche du Cachalot by Ambroise Louis Garneray and Frederic Martens, 1835

My search for cover art for this, the premier and winter issue of SEA took me to the East Coast, and more specifically the Old Dartmouth Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where I hoped to secure permission to reproduce “Peche du Cachalot.” I felt it would be perfect for the cover. It has a cold, wintry, blustery feeling indicative of the season and it conveys that same sense of the power and drama of the ocean which we hope to convey within the pages of SEA.

Of course I didn’t need to travel all the way to Massachusetts to obtain the photo-transparency but, having read Moby Dick when I was in college, and, having grown up in New England, I had a strong desire to return to my old stomping grounds and those of Herman Melville.

After stopping by the museum and taking care of the business of the cover art, I decided to head down to the waterfront to have a look around before making my way back to Boston and home.

The sun had set and there was very little light by the time I reached the shore. Wanting to get another look at the transparency (cover art), I quickly opened the envelope, perhaps to put myself in closer touch with the feeling of this place in Melville’s time. I reached in, and at the same time, a grayish cloud streamed out and curled down toward the ground. The cloud then took the shape of a person, a person from another time, a seaman from the nineteenth century. In front of me stood a young Herman Melville as clearly as Christ over the altar and as strange as it was, I wasn’t afraid. I could feel the presence of a warm soul.

Questions shot through my mind. Knowing that it’s the nature of ghosts to come and go as quickly as they please, I had to speak soon. Noticing that I looked slightly stunned, Herman introduced himself in his stately and dignified manner. Still not knowing where to begin, he began for me:

“I know that you’re one of my greatest fans and, being that you have set out to aid in creating the finest in ocean-related publications, I thought perhaps I might be of assistance in your endeavor. By the way, I managed to get a peek at the first issue. Not a bad start. We’re all very impressed up there… Dylan and Pablo send their best… You must have questions for me, fire away lad!”

“Thank you sir and… well… yes Mr. Melville, Herman… what drew you to the sea?”

“That, my son, is quite simple, and please,

‘Call me Ishmael… some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me,” * he paused, then said, I hope I haven’t been too long-winded.”

“No sir, that was perfect, thank you.”

“You’re welcome young man… is there anything else?”

“Actually yes… describe, as you see it, a perfect day at sea.”

“Hmm… as the editor of this fine publication you hold the responsibility of aiding your readers in grasping the overwhelming beauty of the sea so as to ensure a wider understanding of this part of the natural world and hence, to ensure its preservation. As surely as I now stand before you, I will oblige your request. Though apparition or phantom I may now be, I was once, physically, and am now, in the spirit world, a wanderer of the great seas. And though I now wander the seas of heaven, I can assure you that the seas I’ve ventured upon in this afterlife are no more or less fantastic than those I sailed on in my youth. My only wish is that I could be granted just one more earthly life so that I might appreciate better that which I once took for granted. But enough of my digression, you are a busy man, earthly time is short, and the tempers of men even shorter when forced to endure the digression of an old man, especially a dead one.”

“A perfect day at sea… ‘a clear, steel-blue day. The firmaments of air and sea are hardly separable in that all-pervading azure; only the pensive air is transparently pure and soft, with a woman’s look, and the robust and man-like sea heaves with long, strong, lingering swells, as Samson’s chest in his sleep.

Hither, and thither, on high, glide the snow-white wings of small, unspeckled birds; these are the gentle thoughts of the feminine air; but to and fro in the deeps, far down in the bottomless blue, rush mighty leviathans, sword-fish, and sharks; and these are the strong, troubled, murderous thinkings of the masculine sea.

But though thus contrasting within, the contrast is only in shades and shadows without; these two seemed one; it was only the sex, as it were, that distinguished them,’”* he paused, Good enough?’”

“Yes,” I said looking quickly at my watch. Time to go, I thought. And when I looked up to thank him, he had disappeared.

* passages from Moby Dick by Herman Melville reprinted courtesy of Penguin Books

Ticket To Ride, Book 2, Chapter 26: Let’s get out of here and get some waves…

Alsea by Brad Quist, www.quistartstudio.com
Alsea by Brad Quist, http://www.quistartstudio.com

They’d fallen asleep and the sun was going down behind the mountains. Still lying on the blanket that had served as a makeshift bed, they both turned to one another at the same moment and smiled.

“Plane doesn’t leave until 11, what should we do now?” asked Livy, getting up on one elbow.

Morgan reached to her and pulled her back down and kissed her.

“You’re the most beautiful woman in the world.”

“Thanks.”

“This is a beautiful place and we should never forget it.” Morgan said.

“It is getting a bit cold.”

Morgan held her closer.

“It’s always colder in the mountains,” he said.

“I love the mountains.”

“I know and I love them because you do.”

“Why don’t we head toward the beach?”

“It won’t be dark for a while and I’d like to try and surf Rincon before we leave California.”

“Let’s do it.”

“You are the most beautiful woman in the world, you know that don’t you?”

“You’re so sweet. I hoped, but I never knew there could be a man like you. I love that song you wrote. Maybe someone’ll record it sometime. Maybe you could.”

“I’ll never learn to play the guitar and I don’t know anyone who’s willing to work on it.”

“It’s a shame with all you’ve written that it’s not seen more interest.”

“It’s not that I haven’t tried.”

“I know.”

“I’m just glad I have you. Let’s get out of here and get some waves.”

“A sus ordeñes señor,” Livy said smiling, “Sweetie? Good news…  I think I’m pregnant.”

Morgan held her again, even more tightly.

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower…

dylan-thomasOne of my favorite poets and the man after whom I named my son:
Dylan Marlais Thomas, born October 27, 1914, in South Wales, was the archetypal Romantic poet of the popular American imagination—he was flamboyantly theatrical, a heavy drinker, engaged in roaring disputes in public, and read his work aloud with tremendous depth of feeling and a singing Welsh lilt.

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
by Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.

And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.