Monument Row

The traveler journeys

His ship has gone far

The doldrums eclipsed

With the light of new stars

The lands seem foreign

The people are strange

But always they smile

And call you by name

You run, and you run, and you run

From it all

Charts lost in the maelstrom

Just the albatross’ call

Until delicious intention

Returns from respite

And phrases the unmentioned

Where maybe you might

All praise to the ointment

Its healing refrain

Right, left-side disjointment

To blow out the brain

The covers pull back

Each bone is stripped bare

The tiller is slack

And there’s no one to care

So you take to the helm

Hands firmly in place

And you care not a whit

If it’s all empty space

As a cardinal is perched

On the yardarm so high

A land bird at sea

Making all truth a lie

And you wonder then maybe

Have you wandered too far

As the cup pours the gravy

From a long empty jar

The wind yet to move

The day is late June

What’s whole has been halved

With the sun almost noon

The rigging is silent

The mast frozen tall

The wind has died down

With no new ports of call

A feeling still burns

In the fire within

To find that one thing

That unfound, to us sings

The ocean is flat

The sea is dead calm

Seasons repeat

Memories unresolved

The night sky is clearest

The darkest the days

Whose winds have escaped

Adrift to now play

But then just a wisp

Of a breeze on your cheek

Portends of a magic

And a future you seek

It strengthens and gushes

Throughout all the night

As the red sky last evening

Had hinted it might

As the headsails go up

The big linen comes down

And you climb up the mast

To nest in its crown

The creak of the lapstrake

Splashes over the bow

The futures in sight

Incarnate, right now

Looking down on a lifetime

A rare moment of joy

The smell of the brine

Covers anything coy

As an Island approaches

From the mist up ahead

And the stillness reproaches

Then retreats to its bed

The wonder returns

Speculation begins

Of the magic you’ll find

In a newness again

At the top of its mountain

Strange trees then appear

In a shape that you’re certain

Neither familiar nor clear

The closer you get

The more they seem to move

As their shapes become giant

And your hopes then behoove

Your ship anchors at rest

With the dinghy on shore

To see them more clearly

Each face to implore

Like monolith Gods

On top of the hill

Reigning down on those entering

With a welcoming shrill

But where are the people

The Island is bare

Just giant stone carvings

That linger and stare

And as you approach them

The ground starts to shake

From deep in your heart

A primordial ache

The mountain then trembles

All paths become closed

With the rain now a warning

Any trespasser knows

As you run to the dinghy

Its oars are found gone

And your ship is now missing

In its place just a song

Which sings to you words

Ones you already know…

“A price not paid dearly

Is only for show”

You turn back to the mountain

And in an explosion of light

You’re lifted up to the heavens

Spun around in a fright

You’re shot then straight downward

Toward the mountain below

And with force you are planted

Along monument row

And now that you’ve joined them

All questions abide

The distance and separation

In heaven collide

“Can I leave, am I destined

to be left here entombed?”

And in language you recognize

Providence swoons

From a choir immortal

Voices start to be heard

Your welcome now total

As your drown in their words

“You can leave if you want to

The choice is all yours

But this mountain goes with you

As all places detour

You’ve reached the first milestone

You’ve passed the first test

Old dye in the ointment

—now clear and at rest”

 

(Chesapeake Bay: June, 2017) 

 

 

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