Tag Archives: oceans

Contraband: a chantey (shanty)

We never see the sight of land
except to bury treasure;
the nights we roll upon the sea
are numbered beyond measure.

Our toil and strife is never done,
our sleep is but an hour;
we cross the mighty waterways
by wind and muscle power.

Through rain and wind we travel on
in search of gold and riches;
and learn to keep our balance when
the deck savagely pitches.

The goal: to rule the seven seas,
and take what spoils we wishes;
to see our enemies impaled
or sleeping with the fishes.

Some swabs may call it contraband;
it’s swag, or spoils or booty.
To claim the biggest prize of all
is not our right, but duty.

26 APR 2011

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Salt of the Earth

Imagine a person made completely out of salt.

If that person chooses to be immersed in the ocean, their very being is absorbed by the sea. Once their head is beneath the waves, no distinction can be made between their now dissolved form and the depths into which they have sojourned. Not even the ocean can separate itself again, saying “this minute portion of me is of that small salt doll, and the remainder is not”.

Such is the case, too, when a person approaches and begins to comprehend the infinite energy of the universe. Once an individual recognizes the eternal within themselves, the external sack of temporal cloth in which that eternal has been stored melts away, and only the infinite remains.

In either case, who is left to report, to return some answer to the question they originally set out seeking? And in what language could that answer be expressed, that those on the shore, whose toes scarcely dare to dip into the surf’s foam, would be able to understand?

Even the cleverest of parables fails. And to speak with the voice of the ocean itself is to be misunderstood as a overwhelming roar.

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A Different Kind of Shore

When one looks out past
the breaking waves at ocean’s end
those across the sea

seem much less remote
connected by this expanse
of constant movement.

Away from the sea
In a great endless valley,
peering at the edge

of the horizon
where the sky and land connect
the mountains rise

dark blue and somber;
they separate more clearly
expanse on both sides.

Yet the more finite
space of the wide sprawling plain
is not the desert

hugeness of the sea,
it does not shift and not shift
change without changing

it just dries to dust
and then turns again to green
is lost in deep snow

and each spring flowers;
the ocean’s chameleon
greens, grays, blacks and blues

breed deeper hungers,
suckle darker fears and dreams
and know their own gods.

religions are born
of the deserts and the seas —
seeking to fathom

the underlying
pulse that moves without travel
swallows with no trace.

14 JUN 2004

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Finding the Ocean (Again)

I have looked for long hours across the bay,
sensing in the coming dawn some great sign;
after my simple chores are done each day,
when each minute spent does not seem so fine,

along the windswept shore I roam, my eyes
scanning the horizon for floating birds,
seeing the joining of the earth and skies
and in that union, peace beyond words.

Today, there in the mist I thought I spied
upon a raft, a man who looked like me;
our glances locked, and with my hand I tried

to steer his way across the stretching sea.
He waved, and in the wind his hair was wild;
I waited on the rocky shore, and smiled.

11 JUL 2003

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Finding the Ocean

I have lingered long by the endless shore,
voice lost to the surf, that infinite shift
that pulls itself from the littered ocean floor
and upon which my thoughts float free and drift;

for many years I saw only the edge
of it, against the long horizon’s line,
and heard, in the haunting seagull’s solfege
a wistful song that sounded much like mine.

I could construct a raft, I thought, and tack
against the wind and storm, to other shores;
perhaps there I would find what here I lack –
a quiet port that the busy world ignores.

But now, upon the distant coast, I see
A figure in the wind that looks like me.

10 JUL 2003

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