The Captain, Leslie Diane

Dale Champlin, Blowing His Stack, Collage, 2021

The Captain


You move through
the subway train bent over in
your chariot wheelchair
offering your curved back
to the crowd your legs
left on some battlefield
of war: service war, street
war, disease war one of
them has taken your
stride and your speed
still, the curve of your back
mimics the letter c and I
imagine it’s because you
were once a captain on
some long ago ship
standing beneath the
sails as they billowed
and carried you from
continent to continent,
straight into the blood
orange sun and you did
not burn for here you
are emerged from the
flames, curved into a c
protecting the last ember
of your life with your
flesh and your heart

Leslie Diane


Review by Paul Willis

I love the way in which the bent-over man in the wheelchair is transformed from an object of pity to a subject of admiration.


Review by Jared Pearce

Probably the world would be a better place if we all presumed the best about each other.  I dig how this poem’s final image—of the c-shaped sufferer curled around the “last ember / of your life”—is so tight, so right, and such a fine example of promoting the best of each other amidst difficulties. 

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