Sunday, December 30, 2012

Poetry Grab Bag

So after the gun control piece I found little motivation for more in the way of serious entries. Hence, poems.

Today at work I noticed
A sparrow lying on the sidewalk
In front of the door.
He had flown into the glass,
And I assumed, broke his
Neck in the process.

I procured a plastic bag from
The customer service desk and
Everyone gathered to gawk
As I picked up this small
Unfortunate creature. As I moved
To place him in the trash can I
Noticed the warmth, and a faintly
Beating tiny heart, emanating from
Within the shopping bag.
He was still alive.

As I peeled the bag back
The little bird’s glossy black
Eyes gazed out at me.
I could see pain in them.
I felt sorrow in my heart, he
Was meant for so much more than this,
Meant to soar in a world that constantly
Placed panes of glass in his way.
I could empathize with his plight.

“should we put him out of his misery?”
Asked one of the girls from customer service.
“Probably” another shot back, “it
Would be cruel to let him suffer.”
“well who is going to do it”? asked
The MOD.

Everyone took a step back from me,
I stood holding the bird as everyone eyed me
With a nervous apprehension. This poor hurt
Little bird. I knew then that no one else would
Do it.  No one else had the courage.
I hate myself for doing it, but he
Was hurt and dying. I felt it would
Be crueler to leave him to die of exposure,
Wrapped in a plastic bag and stuffed in a
Trash can.
I took him by his legs, and before I lost my nerve
Swung his head into the side of the trash can, snap.
He didn’t let out a sound. My co workers though still
Regarded me with horror, as I gently wrapped him again
In his polyethylene sarcophagus and committed him to
The great beyond. Whatever would greet him there.
Everyone slowly filed back inside, without saying
A single word to me. I took a step away and lit a

I am sorry brother no one else would give
You the dignity you deserved in death. You were meant to
Soar but the world insisted on putting things in your

Way at every turn, plate glass, wind turbines, etc.
Stupid shit at every turn, if you were not a bird but a
Man you might look a lot like me.
It had to be me to ease your passing
But I wish to god it hadn’t been.
Travel well, if there is any justice at all
In this life or the next I will see you
Another happier day in paradise.


The sword cuts easily
The liquor enfeebles entirely
The boots leave muddy footprints
The body fails

The bullet flies true
The pill and powder deceive
The trousers wear at the crease and cuff
The trousers wear you

The will conquers all
The vehicle gives way to impact
The nose bleeds freely
The life dissolves

The sails fill with wind
The fibers strain to breaking
The joints move as intended
The third mate has gone mad

The stock boy carries the cases
The psyche struggles to comprehend
The form goes through the motions
The world crushes all that is good.

Liberation for Lions
He paces furtively, the shaggy
Lion trapped within a box.
The box is his trap and his
Sustenance both at once.
Trapped he remains
on this wheel that turns forever.

The lion turns to the master
Ever present in his mind and
Asks “what is the way to liberation?”
The master replies “it is the cypress in
The courtyard.” Unsatisfied  the lion
Shakes his shaggy head and this time
Roars “what is the way to liberation?”
“it is the flight of the heron high
Overhead” replies the master serenely.

The lion grows agitated within the
Box, confined, angry. Ill at ease with the
Perceived limitations of his life.
He bellows once again at the master
“what is the way to liberation?”

The master replies “Now I will show you, not tell you. The
Path to liberation lies within. Only if you cease grasping for
Freedom can you attain it. Attempting to grasp the mind with
The mind is the perpetuation of your bondage. If you seek freedom,
Cease seeking freedom. Only with the cessation of mind will you be free.
Only with the cessation of mind will you see that you are free this very moment.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Gun Control: Hitting your target or a fallacious concept skirting the issue? Take your pick.

With the most recent spate of mass shootings the issue of gun control has come back to the forefront of American media, public consciousness, and the political process. I have much to contribute concerning this topic. As a lifelong firearms enthusiast and casual hunter I know more than a little bit about guns. I also sold guns at a Gander Mountain for a goodly spell hence I have seen a balanced cross section of Americans who buy guns, why, and how much they know about them.
                A prefatory note to all that is to follow in this entry, people have been killing people since people became a thing. All one person needs to kill another is motivation; we are born with all other required equipment. Weapons are merely combat multipliers. The Shooter at Newtown could likely have replicated his horrific actions with a sword. Not long after the Newtown shooting a man in china injured several people with a knife. Records show a recent trend in knife perpetrated mass killings in China over the past few years, proving my point. Bottom line limiting gun ownership due to isolated incidents is merely punishing an overwhelmingly compliant and law abiding body of American gun owners.
                That being said, I do not look on with approval at all facets of gun ownership in America. I am willing to make concessions if they are intelligent and effective. Limiting magazine capacity, or arbitrarily designating some guns as more dangerous than others is neither.
                Selling guns at Gander Mountain the most notable trend among gun purchasers is one of consumer ignorance. Anyone with a clean background can buy a gun in my home state of Pennsylvania, whether they have any idea how to operate and maintain it or not. Also, training is in no way required, even to get a concealed carry permit. This fact maddens me to end. I was obligated to sell a gun to man who couldn’t spell Andrew, his own middle name. I have trained extensively both in general, and specifically with every gun I own. I feel that is my duty to society in exchange for the privilege of owning firearms. Don’t start with the “right to bear arms” NRA mantra, the bottom line is that it was written when militias were relevant and not composed of crazy people, only by a fluke in interpretation did it get carried over to today.
                Working at Gander Mountain allowed me to pass on an extremely limited portion of my knowledge to those in need of it. The two biggest problems I see, lack of coherent and mandatory training for gun owners, which creates a huge body of unsafe and armed individuals. The saying in medieval Europe was “never give a sword to a man that can’t dance.” Though this phrase carries innate elitist connotations, I gladly say never give a gun to a man that hasn't trained. My friend Brendan hit the nail on the head in his blog entry on gun control which largely pointed to training as a remedial factor in gun ownership. I agree one hundred percent and support the spirit of his ideas. I have dealt with gun owners so untrained, and unsafe they produced firearms from under their jackets, secured Mexican style (colloquial term for carrying a gun in ones belt) and pointed the muzzle of the weapon at me as they handed it across the counter to have it appraised. On two of many such occasion, upon checking the gun, I found a round in the chamber. My response both times, “that is your one freebie, do that again and we are gonna have trouble.” Over and over I found myself selling guns to people legally permitted to own them who I felt should not be. Alongside general lack of training and knowledge is what I feel to be a lax standard for concealed carry permits in my state. In Pennsylvania, anyone with a clean background can trundle down to a county sheriff’s office, fill out a form, pay thirty six dollars, and be legally permitted to carry a weapon in public about a week later. Some would call this a great degree of freedom, I call it gross irresponsibility. Carrying a firearm is potentially dangerous even done correctly, this danger is massively multiplied when the carrier knows nothing at all about either his weapon or the mechanics of carrying properly. Concealed carry holsters must fit your weapon perfectly and cover the trigger, and hammer if the firearm has one. This is because exposed triggers and hammers pose a significant risk for accidental or premature discharge, should either be caught on a garment or other object. The reason this is an issue is due to personal defense dogma. A firearm carried for personal defense is useless to you if it is not loaded, with a round in the pipe. Say what you like but it is a matter of practicality. The vast majority of recorded gun fights throughout history occurred inside seven yards distance. At that range, an attacker armed with a knife or bludgeon type weapon can close with you before you can chamber a round, or, if armed with a gun, already be firing at you before you can get a shot off. Statistically speaking, getting the first shot usually makes the difference between winning and losing.  If you disagree with me about any of this I respect that but you are wrong. I have put in the years, done the research, and taken the courses to know these things and you have not.
                Overall, gun safety at its very core boils down to three key principles which will never steer you wrong.
1.       Never point any firearm at anything you do not wish to destroy. No exceptions.
2.       Learn how to properly operate your firearm in any circumstance. If you can’t do anything and everything you need to with the gun in the dark you haven’t trained well enough.
3.       “Hold it so no one can take it from you.” This is a quote from an old frontier movie I saw once. A fathers words to a son as he hands him the family flintlock rifle, this is still relevant today. Whether on your person, on the nightstand, or stored in your home, never put yourself in a position where your gun can be parted from you, or is not secured properly in its holster. Doing so constitutes gross negligence of an epic caliber. (Haha, get it, gun pun.)
So, there is stuff that bugs me, and an ultra abbreviated list of safety rules. Brendan’s piece inspired me to whip up a training regimen gun control solution of my own, similar to his but with a gun owners knowledge brought to bear. What I have posted here is an abbreviation, like a truncated outline for public inspection which will hopefully yield bountiful and useful feedback and suggestions. I envision a system that works like this.  At age eight all American schools will conduct a mandatory firearms safety and training program included as part of preexisting physical education requirements. In this portion of physical education class all children will be trained to safely fire air rifles and pistols. The curriculum will be primarily safety oriented but basic shooting technique, ie achieving a clean trigger break, proper breathing patterns, and multiple shooting stances should about cover it at this level. After this initial introduction all further involvement will be optional and pursued at the discretion of parents and their children. I know some dumbass is reading this and getting indignant about the idea of shooting programs based in schools. Just stop your internal monologue right now Hoss, schools used to commonly have shooting teams in a better, less stupid age, and I see no reason why my idea presents any problem. Using what they learn on the Wrestling team, kids could more easily strangle the life out of a another human, we didn't ban high school wrestling, just guns, the scapegoat for a few nut jobs that use them to kill people, also if parents followed my third principle of gun safety kids wouldn't be swiping mom and dad’s arsenal to go on a rampage.  Some may question the wisdom of starting at age eight. I say earlier is better. Children absorb information better than adults, and, like anything else, safely and effectively operating a firearm takes practice and education.
                After the familiarization course at age eight children and parents shall be offered a similar course but with .22 caliber rifles and pistols in lieu of air guns.  Same drill, safety and firing technique would be the core of this class. As an addition and enhancement  dis-assembly, cleaning, re-assembly, and weapon maintenance will be covered thoroughly as well. At the end of the course children, or first time adult gun enthusiasts will be required to take an exam with a minimum passing score of say eighty five percent, and must also demonstrate a measure of proficiency with the weapons and all aspects of their use as well. This classroom and practical exam will be required as the prerequisite for any and all gun ownership.
 After this phase course will move out of schools entirely. Many American Sportsman’s clubs offer a hunters safety course which covers many field related safety issues intrinsic to hunting. Some such courses are better than others. I propose these type of programs be standardized, funded, and maintained by the government and include more marksmanship training. This is the point at which centerfire rifles and shotguns , as the most common hunting weapons, will become incorporated in training and certification courses. These weapons are much more powerful than airguns and rimfire weapons and hence must be accorded the respect due them.
Past this point training and certification courses will become highly specialized. I take no issue with the current age limits on weapon purchases, eighteen to buy a long gun, twenty one for a handgun. I propose however, that the purchase of any gun must be preceded by the completion of a specific course custom fit to the type of gun in question. Bolt action and lever action rifles, pump shotguns, double barreled shotguns, semi automatic shotguns, revolvers, semi automatic handguns and tactical type semi auto rifles and carbines will all have some variation of the curriculum I outlined attached to them as a prerequisite for purchase. Based on the multitude of configurations available in for each of the preceding categories of firearms there will doubtless be need for many variations in training and safety course. In addition to this, defensive shooting and practical concealed carry courses will be required for the purchase of all handguns. The final piece of the outline, and something I gleaned from Brendan’s piece is the incorporation of psychological evaluations for any of these upper weapon tiers. The evaluations must also be performed annually on owners of upper tier weapons, if not more often. If any of you out there are curious about what one of these training courses would look like, and cover I recommend the Clint Smith Thunder Ranch instructional dvds. They cover the basic firearm food groups, are thorough, and the man is one of the most highly qualified and competent weapons instructors in the nation.
I will make one final point before I start wrapping this up. Much of what I hear about Obama’s new gun control proposals centers around weapons types and magazine capacity, ie how many rounds a gun can hold. The proposed ten round limit on pistol magazines will solve nothing. A motivated shooter can carry dozens of magazines with him. The issue is not a matter of bullets, it is a matter of individual people without coping skills or with mental disorders obtaining (usually from parents or friends who have not followed principle three) firearms then using them violently. This is why I included psych evaluations in the upper tier of my system. It is never a guns fault that a person attached their hatred, malice, or troubled psyche to it. People kill people not guns. I feel that phrase is over-used and a tad simplistic but it is a matter of simple truth. All of history is people killing people, killing people.
Concerning weapon designations the term “assault weapon” drives me irate with anger. Much as our government attaches the term “terrorist” to any person or group whose politics they do not approve of, the also attach the term “assault weapon” to certain firearms as a fear mongering catch all. “Assault weapons”, are any military type automatic rifle, carbine, or sub-machine gun, primarily, M-16, and M-4 variants, AK-47’s, SKS’s and a plethora of submachine guns (small automatic carbines chambered in calibers primarily used for military and police situations where room clearing is necessary) to numerous to even begin to shake a stick at. Now sit down and strap in folks, I am about to drop an amazing truth bomb (truth bombs are non lethal, only assault bombs can hurt you) all over you. Any firearm, loaded, aimed at people, and fired is an “assault weapon.” A sword is an assault weapon, my hands can be assault weapons. The Newtown shooter could have entered that school with six flint lock dueling pistols and a black powder stage coach shotgun and still killed people. It is not the weapon, it is the person. I will repeat this ad nauseum and the politicians and gun control activists will never listen. Apparently this concept is too difficult for them to master.
Despite the fact that the "assault weapon" designation drives me crazy I would be willing to make a concession. I would gladly accept a ban on “assault weapons” in exchange for no limitations on magazine capacity of handguns, and some practicality about the designations specified. As I understand it, under Obama’s proposed changes, any rifle even bolt action hunting rifles, with a capacity over three rounds will be considered an “assault weapon”. The same goes for shotguns, sporting model pumps and semi autos are almost all capable of holding more than three rounds, making them “assault weapons” also. The stupidity fairly boggles the mind. Anyway, there it is, a bit of my thought on the issue, and a demonstration that we gun owners are capable of compromise. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions please seek me out.
I hope everyone has enjoyed their Christmas, safe travels and a happy New Year. Longarms McPunchington out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Meditations on being lost at sea.

      As of the last few weeks the ship Bounty has been on my mind, as well as the two souls that were lost forever from this world when the ship went down. As a sailor the thought of abandoning ship is a subject of both my thoughts and nightmares fairly regularly. There is no way to understand it unless you have experienced it, as of yet I have been extremely fortunate despite a couple of mild to moderate close calls I have always come back. For this I have to thank excellent shipmates, captains, and mates for doing their jobs very well both for themselves and for those of us sailing with them.
      The best understanding I can lend to someone of the terror that lumpy weather can inspire on a ship comes from an excerpt of a larger narrative I have been slowly completing over the course of this sailing season. The entire piece is in and of itself not about sailing but the subject so often meditated upon by writers, a beautiful woman.
     The voyage to Kingston, Ontario, was the beginning, the ragged edge of a crack that would manifest, and then grow to gigantic proportions, destroying the bliss that was my life. The Welland Canal transit was infamous for both exertion and frustration. Negotiating this waterway’s seven locks entailed the installation of bulky wooden canal fenders, adjusting the placement of yards, housing the main top-gallant yard, and at least twenty four hours with all hands on deck and on duty for the majority of this time. Niagara has no power winches we pulled the ship up each increase in elevation with mooring lines and turning blocks. No Mechanization, no mercy. I served most of the Welland transit as assistant cook. I don't know which was worse but the bottom line was that none of us made it back from Kingston the same. The itinerary we served out was insane, total command disconnect from the physical reality of a schedule deftly created at a desk by people wearing suits and ties. Docking at Kingston, sailing to Bath 2 hours away, dropping a hook, weighing anchor, sailing back to Kingston, then sailing back to Bath at night to recreate the beginning of the flight of the Royal George. No one slept, sleep was a taunt, a tease, holding its infinite bliss just out of our reach. "Good morning, this is your wake-up, today you will work until you want to die, tomorrow you will do it again." The small bit that kept me going was the time I spent with Mariah under a willow tree. A measure of peace brought forth from recognizing the fatigue and frustration in the heart of another who I held dear. For just that short while under a tree we were able to laugh, live, and love. We survived, we made it, we finished the voyage and despite the fact that I was falling asleep on the throttles as we emerged from the Welland I felt optimistic, like some time in Erie to recharge would fix me. Then the next twelve to twenty four hours happened. 
       As we progressed further out from the canal the sky over Lake Erie darkened. As the beginnings of a storm cell started to rough us up a bit we received the Coast Guard distress call that would ensure we would have close calls twice that day. A small yacht off the south shore of Lake Erie had lost power and the Coast Guard requested vessels in the vicinity give aid. The captain decided to approach the vessel and perhaps bring it under tow to get the boaters out of danger. As we were on our way to do this the wind was picking up by the second and the seas started to get choppy. Initially this is fun, initially. by the tail end of my watch gusts were topping out around thirty. As I recall we had no sail set and were motoring. Perhaps thirty minutes after being stood down the motion in the ship when from delightfully spirited to downright rough. The wind had reached the mid forties and things were officially getting sketchy. By this time the Coast guard radioed again to indicate that they had peeled off a cutter for the stranded boaters, leaving us in the middle of a violent storm cell for naught. After a cursory look around the deck I went back below. Shortly thereafter an all hands called was issued. The problem was that it was issued very poorly. People did not pass it along below decks leaving some confused as to what had just happened. As voices got more frantic, confusion spread and in no time at all I began to feel a slight knot in my stomach. As I fumbled with my foul weather gear the call for all hands on deck went out again, this time the voice, and the motion of the ship belied the severity of the situation. "All hands on deck now!!!" echoed throughout the birth deck. When I came up in a t-shirt and shorts the wind was so violent it was chillingly cold, the rain now close to horizontal. The Captain had four professional crew members on the helm struggling to keep us bow to the wind. It was challenging enough that the side to side motion was becoming downright frightening. Eventually we were lined up on the windward rail of the ship to wait out the blow. I don't know how long it lasted. I know it seemed very long because I was mildly scared and cold. I don't know which one of those was more powerfully motivating. All in all, the first blow topped at forty seven knots and cost us enough time to set us up for the second blow of the day.
          The first blow took place sometime in the early afternoon. Several hours elapsed before the second, which cropped up virtually out of nowhere, heartrendingly close to the warmth and respite of our home slip. Had it not been for the Coast Guard errand we pursued, we would have missed it altogether. It was evening, perhaps seven or eight o’clock when we went all hands to dock near the mouth of the channel into Presque Isle Bay. As we approached an ominous black cloud formation darkened the western skyline, making me uneasy. Mooring lines were rigged and we were so very close to getting to use them when the wind started to fill in rapidly. Twenty knots, thirty, thirty five, then it became clear we would be eating this storm as well. Rain started to fall, the radar view of the cell showed a lot of red headed straight at us. Rain continued, the water got choppy and the wind kept blowing harder all the time. The captain had the port anchor made ready to drop as we used the engines to keep us bow to wind. At this point everything shook loose. The wind got even worse, rain was now flying nearly horizontal and visibility had dropped off to almost nothing. The ship was swaying violently side to side even worse than before. All hands was called and everyone was told to don a life jacket and stand along the windward rail. Every time I looked at Mariah I saw my thoughts on her face, “this isn't fun anymore, what is going to happen?” This time I at least had my foulies on. Some of the trainees, high school kids were crying, some of the apprentices were as well. I stood next to Mariah and waited as nature’s fury pounded the ship. Our friend Claire came up on deck late, with no foulies. Apparently someone forgot about the Assistant cook’s cabin when passing the all hands call .Claire looked absolutely miserable, Mariah and I stood on either side of her to provide some protection from the wind and rain. As the wind crested at fifty two knots the Captain decided the only way we weren’t getting blown over, or onto land for that matter was to drop the hook and hope for the very best. The wind and rain was so loud that those dropping the anchor could not hear the captain on the radio. Commands were screamed back and forth ever more frantically. I looked at Mariah and saw real, poignant fear in her eyes for the first time. I am sure she saw the same in mine. At that moment her hand reached out and found mine. We both squeezed hard and waited. There was nothing else to do. Finally, after what felt like decades spent in cold, wet, fear the hook went down, gripped the bottom, and held us. The engines and rudder were used to pivot us on the hook and keep us bow to wind. The storm blew over and a collective gasp of relief and exhaustion went up from all of us. From this moment on the routine was somewhat normal. We pulled up the hook, got to the dock, tied up and stowed the ship. What was going on in my mind was far from normal. I was thinking about what would have happened if either of those two squalls would have went differently? For the worst god forbid? What would be left undone for me? What would I have regretted not doing? My mind immediately jumped to Mariah and the willow tree. As I walked up behind her on the plaza I put my arms around her and whispered “is it weird that maybe almost dying made me horny?” She smiled back at me and replied “not really.”I kissed her cheek and walked on. I set up an air mover in the shop for drying out everyone’s sopping wet gear. When I got upstairs to the crew kitchen in the museum I saw her coming out of the doorway. I went for her fast, arms wrapped around tightly and just kissed her as hard as I could without hurting her. The squall had snapped my priorities into crystal perspective, and she was too important to lose, or to die without having loved fully and truly. At least one crew member saw us like this, and we remained so for several minutes. Eventually we managed to pry ourselves loose from ourselves and began scrounging booze like everyone else. Mariah and I, Chelsea, and Alex all sat on the balcony drinking, smoking cigarettes and staring blankly into the night as we relived the squalls. It was reminiscent of all the scenes in war movies where battered soldiers smoke cigarettes down to their fingers trying to come to grips with what just happened to them, and their friends. Mariah and I came to grips on a bed of burlap and sleeping bags in the sail locker. Neither of us has ever looked back and I wouldn't have it any other way. I have loved her long enough and well enough that I could leave this world at any moment and be at peace.

This excerpt is a little piece of what bad weather at sea really is. My heart rends at the thought of the Bounty crew getting to the other side of my question, what if it had gone differently? The fear associated with distress on a ship is heightened by the fact that you might as well be in a space shuttle, everything you need to survive in a foreign environment is on the ship, your floating home. Water is not where we live, no matter how well you swim or float, you are intruding in a place you have no right to be. You lose your ship, your chances of survival get really slim, really quickly. While saddened by the Bounty tragedy I am happy that the Coast Guard got as many back as they did. My heart goes out to the families and friends of Claudine Christian and Robin Walbridge, you are our brother and sister mariners and will be forever missed.

Stay Safe out there.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Something for the beaten down feeling.

So, here I sit in a Days Inn In Philly without even a clean pair of boxers to my name. I will be happy if I even get my carry on back and it is getting hard to keep fighting. Life always seems to thwart our plans, making this man feel very much like a mouse at times. Some times it feels like all I need is a grand and a push in the right direction. I just can't ever seem to get that at the right moment. The knowledge that I probably won't be able to be close to someone I love intensely, simply because I am broke just shreds me to the core. I re-read this poem tonight because it is all about this feeling. It is one of two pieces I got accepted for publication. Maybe somebody else could use it now too.

As long as you’re still here you've won
There may not be many jobs.
The loan men may be lighting up
your phone like the bloody 4th.
You may have two bald tires
on your car. But, the check engine
light isn’t on, you have a job, such
as it is, and you have the guts to keep
waking up and facing it.
As long as you’re still here, you’ve won.

You may feel that another 4 years
for a PhD is more than you can stomach,
that women will judge you for
living in your parents attic, that you
don’t fish as much as you would like to.
But, you have a place to sleep, food to eat
And enjoy what little free time you have.
As long as you’re still here, you've won.

The cats may piss in your corner,
And halve your phone charger cord in the
Night. You might not have any spare cash.
The future projected through CNN looks bleak,
at best. But, the cats are excellent foot warmers,
and CNN can be muted or, shut off all together.
As long as you’re still here you've won.

You may feel cheated, may feel that doing
what you were “supposed” to has cost you
your happiness, stability, prosperity. You may feel
that had you struck out on your own
course it would all be better.
The debt may seem astronomical, insurmountable, and
terrifying. But, you still find reasons to smile every day,
and debtors prison no longer exists.
As long as you’re still here you've won.

Your high school classmates may be teachers, welders,
mechanics, with benefits, wives, children, houses, and nicer vehicles.
But, they are all fat, safe, comfortable, mundane, moronic,
and pitiful. Ragged though you might be you are still
lean, strong, hungry for life, and always looking for
that next ship, the next seemingly absurd adventure.
The next horizon seen from aloft.
As long as you’re still here you've won.
This fact will never leave you nor forsake you,
as long as you’re still here.
Since I am too lazy to finish a post about Bounty, and begin a post about my short lived career with American Cruise Lines here is a poem.

Do you live here?
Yes I live here,
I eat here,
I sleep here,
I work here,
I worship here.

I worship my God here,
The god of my strength,
Your strength,
His strength,
Her strength,
Our strength.

There is nothing else but here and
I spend each day fatefully pondering what,
What will come next.

I laugh and roar for the joy of it
And weep, bitter hearted and disconsolate
For the grief of it.
Ultimate high,
Ultimate low.

On and on it goes forever,
One to the next, and the next,
And the next, and the next.

What is the next? The next?
Or simply another, and another and another?
I hate it, I love it, I loathe it, I can’t live without it.

Over and over, under and over, over and under.
Under the fighting top,
Across the fuddocks,
Onto the fighting top,
Into oblivion.

Do you live here?
Yes I live here.
I live here and die here, I die here and live here.
My loved ones die a little bit while I live here,
I die a little bit as my loved ones live elsewhere.

I die here a little bit each day as I live here.
Roaring for joy, sobbing for sadness.
It is the same as everywhere else and different from everywhere else.
I am both trusted and distrusted,
I find meaning then lose it in a heartbeat to the
Triviality of bullshit hierarchy.

This is the antithesis of all you know.
Corporate schills find no place here,
Or so I thought, even the corporations serve a purpose if they keep me sailing.
The signal flags wave vainly in the breeze,
I climb to the hounds to lead thee.
All the dignitaries regard me as a novelty.
I am real, I am real, I am real.

I retreat inward and ponder as the rain roars all round me.
The deckhands line the windward rail clad in life jackets.
The deckhands prepare to die.
The deckhands seize one another’s hands.
The deckhands are my brothers and my sisters.
My mothers and fathers.
My lovers and my friends.
The  deckhands prepare to die the noble and savage death.
Smiling yet weeping.

We collapse, hot water succor of shore facilities.
A hard fight to get clear of here,
A clear fight to get hard in her.
Streaming, steaming, soapy lather bliss
At having survived another trick.

8 am beer breakfast and the
Sadness, sadness, sadness,
Judgment by the rigid others
As the buzz builds, beautiful, within my saddened self.
I cannot even summon the strength to go home, only to drink damned
By the circumstances of my life.
It ends.

The ride home, interminable,
Nothing to say, he is dying and we both know it.
I feel the waste of a half lived life leave, livid, lascivious, liquor,
Upon my breath, I breathe it out like a dragon.
There is no room for it in my soul today.

Over and over, the pad of small paws across
The floor of a home not quite any longer mine.
Shirtless collapse of a body pushed to the maximum.
No more room for the maintenance of my soul.
The soul perishes forevermore from inside of me so deep
That it can be seen upon my face that my inner girdings are forsaking me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The woods were God's first churches.

Right now I need very much to be out there in a stream, surrounded by trees, water, and layers of shale formed in the very essence of time. There are large fish in these streams placed there by God to help us forget our problems. The fleeting moments spent fighting these fish on rod and reel are some of the moments I feel the most alive, invigorated, supernatural.

I need these places and these fish right now.

Monday, November 19, 2012

We made it.

So, I still have not produced anything substantial but sometimes small observational pieces are the most poignant.
I cannot believe that we made it through this season. All of the work, the frustration, the poisoning of my happy life by shitty circumstance is over and I cannot let it go. It is still there. The days I spent here at home chain smoking and feeling like I had mild PTSD are still hanging around my neck like vestigial bits of a skin long since shed. We made it.

At the end of the day the whole season boiled down to her, the only worthwhile thing I got from this devil boat. That is worth it. That is enough, and they can never take that from me.

Brave new beginnings are around the corner and I cannot wait to see where I am a month from now.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What is it people do with these things again?

So, at age twenty seven I feel woefully disconnected from technology and any form of social media. Blogs are no exception so once I activated this thing I thought to myself, "what the hell am I going to use it for?" the answer, put succinctly, was to throw out bits and pieces of my thoughts on, well, whatever, and, shamelessly promote my poetry. That being said I will end my brief re-introductory piece with a recent poem of mine.

Song for the weary and brokenhearted mariner  08/29/2012

In the beginning it was easy,
Sails were full, sleep existed as a
Tangible thing, and the moments
That proved to me that I had the
Best job ever were common and

Now, however things have changed.
Good friends have departed in great
Numbers, with many yet to go.
Our company is slim and we are all
Tired, so tired. Everything feels heavy,
Leaden under the fatigue and frustration.

The pay was never good but appears so
Much worse in light of this somber
New dynamic. Being broke and happy
Is one thing, being broke and miserable
Is quite another.

The crushing pressures of life outside
Of this ship were mitigated when
Things were better, happier, more
Carefree. But with mind deep in
Blackened rabbit hole they are all
Far too present, crushing, devouring in all
Their misery.

Seeing me sad and angry today my
My friend and ship mate Pasquale asked me
“what is wrong?” my response was caught
In my brain and saved for this moment.
“while I am trapped here my father is
Wilting slowly into his grave, and all the while
Clinging to the tattered edifice of a god that
Failed even to fail him.”
His god, not mine, who was never even real enough to fail,
Could not even achieve failure. The god whose
Shoddy constructions I wish to shatter
And expel flaming into the darkest
Bottom corner of the collective
Consciousness of mankind.

Quite simply I am pushed beyond
My means to push back, confidence rapidly
Growing or not I cannot bear this as well as others
Try as I might. My strength comes and goes.
My soul has a tide it seems, which renders it
Prone to the predations of this world.
The armor has grown thinner, the darts and barbs
Find their mark more frequently and the pain,
The pain becomes more intense with each
Consecutive piercing of the walls. I am a flesh and
Blood incarnation of “warrior at respite.” Both mind
and body weary, heart broken, soul rapidly flowing out of wounds.

Give me strength…

Give me a steady sailing breeze and a long haul past the horizon…

Give me an encouraging word…

Give me your strength that I may give
You mine in return, we are alike you and I
And meant to shore each other up
As we walk through this world.

Give me your smile and mine is yours for the taking as well

Give me the favorable light of your eyes,
Bright and shining, they make my heart
Full with gladness and mine can do
The same for you.

Merciful father you are no god but
My fellow man and fellow woman, all
Things good and evil flow through you for
Their appointed purpose. Let me take your
Best with your worst and rise up proudly
To face the coming day, the pink blush
Of the crystallizing new sun my call to action.

My brother and my sister make your
Feet to follow mine in the grass, lay in it
With me as sun warms us, feel the
Good of the day, raise me up from this
Blackness, show me light as I show
It also to you.

My fellow man, work with me today
And sweat by my side, my hands are yours,
My muscles and sinews yours, my bones and their joints
Yours. We are collective in our task and purpose.
I stand beside you and you by me.
I will not forsake you.

My fellow woman, be strong and tolerate the moments
When I am not. I have seen the strong legs and hips that
Support you and I find them to be beautiful. You abide
Where others may not. Your strength is strong enough to bring
Forth and nourish new life. Press your flesh to mine and feel
The hair  on my head, my chest, my legs. All of me is both
Mine and yours. I would forsake the garden for you willingly.
The animals would go unnamed in my absence.

My father, be strong for all of us, I have your blood
And so much more of you. Your strength and weakness mine
As well. I take them gladly. Stay strong with us but a while longer.
I hold you close to me. I am not ready to take your place at
The head of our table. Stay. Stay. Stay.

My mother, fear not the future. This time is trying and strange
For both of us. The sequence of events  moved forward cruelly
Beyond its respective place. Nonetheless, fear not, I will never
Leave you nor abandon you who raised me, and taught me, and
Loved me and cared for me all the years of my life.

All of this is but a moment, besmirched by circumstance
And the negativity of a few miserable souls.

It is not meant to be like this but it is so.
It is not meant to be like this but it is so.
It is not meant to be like this but it is so.

Sleep will come again.

The sun will shine again.

I will feel the warmth of your skin on mine at night again.

We will smile freely again.

Your loved ones and friends will be close and whole again.

You will love your ship and lot again.

I know this to be true.