This one is definitely autobiographical……….
“Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up”
… .. Henry David Thoreau
Tomorrow’s Past Life
There was once a time when my life was filled with living;
Adventure and excitement scattered all across this earth.
I was in my prime, with so much just ripe for giving.
To wander seemed the reason for my birth.
But now my life has changed, I seldom travel fifty mile.
Adventure’s turned to mortgage. Mine’s a sedentary style.
My freedom’s now an office, distant romance an ex-wife.
I have to find the path that leads me on to my old life
So that just once more I can sail the endless ocean,
Or track the old bull wildebeest, and dive amongst the whales.
Watch the condors soar. Change my plans on any notion
To seek of lands heard in a stranger’s tales.
Is that so very much to ask? I’ve known it so before.
The hunger and the plenty, forest snow and desert shore.
The laughter and the loneliness, the passions and the pain.
But still there’s lands I didn’t see, and those I’d see again
If I found a way to undo these chains that bind me,
Not harming those I love nor running from the debts I owe.
I should leave today! Going where no one could find me,
Not caring what I’d seek or where I’d go.
But that’s now how my dreams are made; awake I see the truth:
The bank, the schools the eight to five, so absent from my youth,
Now plot against my wanderlust, my yearning for the road
To hide the path I’m seeking that I once so freely strode.
But there’ll come a time when the house is bought and paid for,
The kid’s are all through college and the pension’s guaranteed.
Then I’ll start to climb back toward the life I’m made for;
My chains released, my spirit once more freed.
Though twenty years may lie between this moment and that day,
It waits on the horizon as a cairn which points the way.
A monument to travelers; emancipation’s prize!
A mark to set my compass bearing steady in my eyes
So that I can see that my life is far from finished.
And some day I will live again adventures yet untold.
Where the wind and me, with a passion undiminished,
Will find that younger life I knew of old.
This one was written while people watching in one of the Pusser’s Rum Bars in the BVI.
“Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in.”
….. Sterling Hayden
Tavern Not Far From The Shore
Between the sea and coming ashore
In tidal zones of emotion,
Washed by ebbs of the cottage door
And floods of the open ocean,
Amphibious beings restlessly stand
In the lee of their wind-swept past,
Talking of days when the sea had command
And years they spent under the mast.
And some may be wandering seaward,
While others to land may be bound.
And some never know of the way they should go
So wash up wherever they’re found.
And some folk may never stop sailing,
While others may sail no more.
But all find their way at the close of the day
To the tavern, not far from the shore.
This one is an amalgam based upon real people with whom I sailed.
“A man’s real life is that accorded to him in the thoughts of other men by reason of respect or natural love.”
….. Joseph Conrad
I’ve rarely seen a man who could have stood his ground so long
No matter what the odds or where the fight.
I’ve never seen another who could prove he wasn’t wrong
When every one could prove he wasn’t right.
I’ve sailed with many bastards but I’ve never met the man
Whose discipline was harder than the one this fellow gave.
Yet I’ve seen no other person, from Helsinki to Saipan,
Whose tolerance was greater, or whose justice was so brave.
We respected him for the strengths that he would show
Which kept us on an even keel and made a mob a crew.
Yet we loathed him too for the lengths that he would go
To make sure we had loads of work to do.
There wasn’t any one of us could say we didn’t owe
At least a debt of gratitude or two.
For some it was hard money, but there’s no one else would know,
He never told a soul of what he’d do.
And I think there’s not a one of us he hasn’t carried back
From drinking way too much in places we should not have been.
Yet all of us he’s threatened with deductions, or the sack.
He can be a saint or demon, or whatever in between.
And there’s times I’ve known when all of us could kill
The bastard that’s been working each beyond his mortal bound.
Then there’s storms we’ve shared when just his stubborn will
Was all that bought us homeward hale and sound.
So when each hell-sent trip is done and all the lads ashore
Are supping up a pint to say good-bye.
We, every single one of us, say’s we’ll be back no more
We’ll give another livelihood a try.
Yet when the leave is all but up with money getting low
We wander back to where we said we wouldn’t go again,
And sign back on the same old line, as if we didn’t know
The hardships we was choosing, all the toil, the fights, the pain.
And the reason why it happens every trip
That brings us back to face the life we know we’re going to hate?
It’s not the pay, the company, nor the ship.
It’s that bastard that we all respect: The Mate.