Tag Archives: Joanie DiMartino

Joanie DiMartino

“Still, when we take into consideration the Glory 
attached to a whaleman’s life, one perhaps ought to be happy.”
from Whale Hunt, by Nelson Cole Haley
Harpooner on the Charles W. Morgan, 1849-1853

Sometimes on the cuttin stage
to leviate the back break
of work I let my mind wander 
to New Bedford, but it’s always autumn,
when those leaves were sun-baked
to the color of pumpkin pie,
and I remember that Eve
of All Hallows when I found
my daughter by the fireside
telling fortunes with her friends.
See, they was paring apples,
turnin the fruit over and over
in their hands, tryin to keep
the peel in one piece 
to learn in the future if their husbands
will be rich or not.
Well, I hollered at them, 
said they were no better’n them girls
from Salem, those villagers
callin folks witches,
while I threw the apple peels
in the fire. Now I stand 
here in the hot sun
over beggar sharks as we strip
blubber from this whale, 
rotate the beast until peeled 
clean in one long piece,
longin to smell those burning
apple peels instead,
and I don’t need no crystal ball
or a clear sea to foretell
that those girls’ll marry whalers,
every last one of ‘em, 
and there’s no use 
in none of us wishin on 
wealth from a paltry 
lay of whale oil.

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Joanie DiMartino has work published in many literary journals and anthologies, including Modern Haiku, Alimentum, Calyx, and Circe’s Lament: An Anthology of Wild Women.  She is a past winner of the Betty Gabehart Award for Poetry. DiMartino is the author of two collections of poetry, Licking the Spoon and Strange Girls, and is completing her third manuscript, “Wood to Skin,” about the 19th-century whaling industry, for which she was a 38th Voyager on the Charles W. Morgan.  Joanie also is a historian and museum professional; she currently serves as the curator and site superintendent of the Prudence Crandall Museum, a National Historic Landmark. Her poetry often addresses historical topics. Visit her website at www.joaniedimartino.com.

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