I've visited ports of call, far and wide
where they speak in strange tongues
and would keep you as a slave
and sometimes, a king.
Like any traveler I have left
places that now haunt my dreams
and all the new islands I have seen
does not lessen their sting.
There are places I swore I'd return
knowing it was a lie
places I never mapped
to keep them hidden from any other eyes
warm waters I plunged deep inside
cold streams I drank from
rare fruit I sucked dry
and natives I loved.
And I left them all
or sometimes, they left me
marooned with the sharks
or wrecked in the waves
clutching to debris.
I've heard territorial beasts
growling from the jungle's depths
to warn me from setting foot within.
There are places I once considered home
that I will never see again.
My father, like his father,
was a sailor just as I
but unlike my father, or his father,
I won't be at sea when I die.
No raging storm or swell or gale
will see my hand thrown from this wheel
or my foot unseated from this bow
I'll arrive where I might with my flag
unfurled and anchor my ship
on that new warm shore
I'll name and chart and claim that place
and then I