There he was, gone.


How do we piece together a story like this one? A mystery. The title offers more questions than answers. There he was, gone. Where is there? Who is he? Where has he gone? How is this sentence even possible? There he was, not there. As if "he" is in two places and in no place, both at once. The once of "once upon a time." This story has to do with time. This story has to do with place. That much is clear. We take time to look around the story space. What do we see? A corner of a map. An abstraction of a place too detailed to place, unless the places it names are already familiar. Is this a local story then? For locals, between locals… if we do not know the answer to this question, then we are not local. We seem to have stumbled upon an ongoing conversation. Listen. A dialogue of sorts. It's too late. An argument, even. One interlocutor instigates. Can't you feel anything? The other obfuscates. It's only the spring squalls over the bay. All that's not said between these two hangs in a heavy mist, a sea fret low over a small fishing boat turned broadside to a pack of hump-backed slick black rocks. This story is fishing inshore. Close to home. Tell me then. Where was he found? A litany of place names follows. No answers. More questions. Wait. Listen. This story keeps shifting. Slow scrolling lines of poem roll in. set sail on home sick ship shape house wreck. What help is that to anyone? We arrive and we have only just finished leaving. What use is a poem? We sift through the fine print, searching for clues. GALE WARNING IN EFFECT, Funk Island Bank. Weather conditions for today's date. Wind northwest 25 knots diminishing to west 15 this morning and to light this afternoon. Is the disappearance hinted at in the title a recent one? There he was, gone. Whoever he was, wherever he went, this story springs from his absence. J. R. Carpenter 2012

set sail on home sick ship shape house wreck steer by star light dead of night reckoning know which way the wind blows know where the fish are know where the rocks aren't