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down in the tide pool

“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”
Herman Melville: MOBY DICK
chapter 135: the chase; 3rd day

* * *

East Hall was in flames. The roof of Queen’s Court
had just collapsed. I was running behind
the new captain, her braids singed, when report
came that the queen was dead. “Go! Try and find
Princess Zi Ye,”
my captain ordered me.
Then: “they’ve trapped us!” a voice rose from our flank
as the sky darkened. Lord Bai Qi’s army
let loose its steel-tipped arrows. At pointblank
range none escaped. In the mud my captain’s
face still drowns before me. You praise their death
in the same misbegotten way virgins
praise sex. “For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath;”
at you, worm, who has never, will never
shed blood but worships the dead warrior.


Bai Qi is a historic character from the period of ancient China called The Warring States; during which warlords fought each other for power. Though a brilliant general, Bai Qi is remembered today as a cruel tyrant who massacred tens of thousands of vanquished enemy solders and civilians alike.

The image of a sky darkened by arrows comes from the 2002 movie Hero, staring Jet Li; a story based on Jing Ke’s assassination attempt on the King of Qin, Qin Shi Huang, in 227 BC.