He built himself a rowboat,
Pulled his cap over his eyes,
Loosed the collar ’round his throat,
And left
With pockets full of goodbyes.

He dragged his vessel out to sea
Where the waters foamed a torrent black;
The riptide whispered
“You belong to me”
And he thought that he’d never go back.

For in his little rowboat,
The only things he possessed
(with the exception of the poem she wrote
and the barnacle-heart
that he repressed)
Were, as follows:
The abandonment of art,
(the return of the hollows),
An ink-drawn compass
(but without a chart),
And light, that screamed Apollo’s.

He had the currents and the zephyr true,
The greedy pull of the water;
And for when the sun had cooked him through,
He snuck some whiskey to make it burn hotter.

Up his sleeve, was a rather dull knife
For when he felt befell the time,
And the songs of sleep, lullabies old,
Began to cool him with her rhyme;
But right before falling to the cold,
He’d jump-start his own putrefaction.
In other words,
He’d snip his own damn life
Just to deny Death the satisfaction.

At least,
That was his plan in the long run
(as long as plans like these can go).
The East,
Behind him, still rising with the sun
Cast upon the hungry ocean
A frail and famished shadow.

The rowboat atop wave over wave
Simply kept on rowboating.
And now, to get used to his grave
In whiskey he was floating.

Halfway through the bottle,
He nearly sweated to a sleep
Where he’d soak in the amber coddle
Until that sleep got a little too deep.

But then nightmare shook him for a spell;
His sleep had turned his mouth to sand;
Head pounded like a drum of Hell;
Neither wake nor sleep could he stand.
So, he started drinking seawater
Hand by shaking hand,
Hand by shaking hand.

Until splashed was he by a playful tail,
One of a mermaid beauty,
Who warned him of an incoming gale
Even though his life was not her duty.

She helped him maneuver
Through waves of grand imagination;
Until he saw how that mermaid
Looked just like her,
And he knew he was played
By a saltwater hallucination.

So, he looked behind him, to the coast,
And lamented his decision,
For it was her, and their life
That he wanted the most.
Thus, with his knife,
He made an incision.

He peeled away his pale white skin,
And used his blood to write
Upon the scrap, a letter
Beneath the moon of lonely night:


“I’m doing what I can”.


He poured out the rest of the whiskey
And folded up his flesh-born note,
Tucked it into the bottle,
Tossed it to the sea,
And hoped it would float.

Once again, he used his hands
As a form of desperate paddle,
And turned the rowboat ‘round,
Paddled to the rhythm sound
Of his fluttering death-rattle.

And though his heart pushed him on,
He feared his home: he couldn’t go there.
For he was 33,000 leagues gone
Off the western coast of nowhere.

He paddled with what strength he had,
But he couldn’t gain a heading,
And his failure made him seething mad,
Though that was soon replaced with dreading.

He feared that he would soon succumb,
And give up on his declaration;
So the rowboat boy then bit his thumb,
And gave a roar of determination.

He took his knife once again,
Chomped his arm to dull the pain,
For he then sawed off both his legs
To use as oars for distance-gain.

He ripped apart his flowing shirt,
And cut his hair to fashion rope,
He rigged some sails
Through all the hurt,
Because his Love had given him hope.

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