NaPo Day 25


He came into the world
with Halley’s Comet
and went out with it,
as he fore-said.
He trained as a steamship pilot
and studied
the river’s every swirl and snag.
He nicked his penname
from an old sailor,
an old river cry,
meaning, mark the two fathoms
that give safe passage.
He changed his mind.
He decried the domination
of the Philippines
and praised the Chinese Boxers.
He was against slavery
but made his masterpiece, Huck,
struggle with
the common prejudice,
terrified he was
going to hell for freeing Jim.
Have I read it?
No… I’d rather float
with this boat
and think of his dark last years
when his daughter Suzy died,
and then his wife Olivia died,
and then another daughter, the youngest, Jean.


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