The Sailor of Marseille

I know you heard my sleepless tongue
repeat in sleep how I yearned to rearrange every
whitecap letter of my name, so I could blacksmith
my manner into Edmond Dantès.

Each letter would spend a year in flame,
the J into E, the U into D, and bend
from the pressure of the finest of tools:
a short-bladed narrative and a gilded denouement.

But you misunderstood my desire, and how that
patient fire would need burn for twelve years
under careful scrutinizing.

So thinking I wanted it easy and
that I meant to leave, you,
using only ocean phonemes, rewrote
Monte Cristo as a damned woodcut novella,
The Sailor Of Marseille:
Edmond as he was with his first love, M.
and not the suave Count, without.

You gutted the Château D’If,
let forever drown his fortune
Robin-Hooded each inch of growth
but first like a paper god, malevolent,
slit Faria’s throat:

“As it was,
the priest tunnelled eastward against the sun,
arrived too late for light, but with no suicidal
Dantès to greet and save, a new madman
bravely broke his plate and saved himself from
the growth of stony hell, that dusted wizened throat.”

And there, reading, I too felt a pang across my voice, an
Adam’s apple bitten to the core, seeds seeping through
the pores, heavier than their tiny frames atop a single palm,
as I clutched your damned Sailor of Marseille with the other.

I noticed how the priest bled out in the hole, mouth agape,
resting staunch on his knees, precisely simultaneous to M.
on her own, pleasing Edmond the way you thought to please me,
alone, without inspiration but that found in bed.

No surprise you mercilessly broke seven letters off his
love’s name to leave the only good resemblance
of you to her, that capricious letter M.

O my sleepless writer,
you were stealing from yourself what was given to her,
for I learned nothing from that book except of the twisted
edges of your mind, bent like the letters of my new name.



JUSTIN LAUZON is a writer based in Toronto. He works to promote Canadian literature and literacy through The Word On The Street, Hear Here, and


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