The Doldrums

Now to the Doldrums we have come,
our sails gone limp, weighed down and still,
and not a breath of wind is left
to draw from old Poseidon’s lungs.
The brackish air insults what brawn
we strain to heave against the oars
to gain an inch or two, no more,
while taunting, sweltered hours crawl.
Long gone, momentum seems a dream,
and progress but a pale mirage;
despite the months spent on the seas,
and endless leagues beneath our keel.

Who has the strength of faith required
in times like these, to feel for breeze,
or raise a moistened, hopeful thumb
against a parched and vengeful sun?
The nights are like the days, they stretch
beyond the far edge of the world,
where one can see the salt consume
the bitter water in dry foam.
The wine is turned to vinegar,
the citrus shrunk to rind;
the bread, once relished hard and dry
grates like a knife with every bite.

So many who began this trip
have fallen o’er the side;
Who knows what passion drives a soul
to certain suicide?
To hope seems vain and fruitless,
just an exercise in pain;
who knew a curse on dreary climes
would end with prayer for rain?
Beneath the deck, the foul air sits
just like an old, despotic king.
He sits in judgment on us all.
Who can arouse his clemency?

The days and nights become the same,
both dreamless states that sour
the taste of pride to curdled milk
and drain the well of meaning dry.
Perhaps tomorrow brings the wind
and thus, an end to this malaise;
What good great fortunes won, if lost
to these despairing, heartless days?
And as for dreams turned dry and bare,
what comfort are those bleaching bones
that mock, like mists from distant isles,
the eyes that take this watch, alone?

11 APR 2005

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