The Axis

By on May 26, 2013 in Poetry


Ralph Moul in uniform

March 26, 1944: “Crossed the equator again yesterday. That makes it about 15 times I have been across it.”


Lost in the middle, the electrician’s mate oscillates
as the day’s voltage defines his wartime parameters.
The Axis had bigger goals than dad’s axis swerving
between latitudes, circulating between longitudes
of ocean, final resting places variously deep, but
every one unmarked.
                                                    By telling his journal, dad
beat back some atoll odds, cheated death’s calendar,
sent inevitability spinning for some seconds, maybe years
for his numerous shipmates swaying with him, there.
Yet all the casualties, plumped in the equatorial sun,
exploded their pent-up energies back to the atmosphere,
spiritual volcanoes erupting, testing the firmest beliefs,
yet finally in abject conformity to a rule not subject to choice.
Was the immortal emperor proud? Were fathers in Iowa proud?

As it happened, even if asleep at the crossing, he counted it;
he captured it as an electric surge, extending life, running life
as if attached to a long umbilical, as if overruling death’s generator.


Photo of Ralph Moul taken by the poet’s mother, Margaret Moul. This poem is from a series written in response to brief excerpts from a journal kept by the poet’s father, written during World War II while serving on the USS Lexington in the Pacific.


Keith Moul's work has appeared widely for more than 40 years. Blue & Yellow Dog Press published his chapbook, The Grammar of Mind, in 2010; Red Ochre Press released Beautiful Agitation, a winner of its 2011 chapbook contest, in Fall 2012. In 2010 a poem written to accompany one of his photos was a Pushcart nominee. Broken Publications published a full-length collection of poems/photos called Reconsidered Light and released his latest book, To Take and Have Not, in September 2014.