Voyage VII

by Peter F. Murphy

          Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the
          swift current, I stood yet was hurried . . .
                                                            Walt Whitman
                                                            “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”

How curious you are, bent from the foam
and the waves. Captain of the doubloon isle,
brineeyed Merman, all night the water combs
you with black insolence.

Beyond the dykes, waterways run
ribboned and still. Simple ripples drift
eyelevel in muscular song.

I love you, O you entirely possess me.

The Father of Waters, slight,
alights

by nighest name,
by clear loud voices,
by the river
approaching and passing.

Your eyes pressed black against the prow,
            view voyages in fresh ruffles of surf. Cutty Sark,
your white sail’d clipper moored to
your first choice in scotch.

Your soul, deep like the rivers,
swims ancient, dusky rivers,
bloody at dawn.

Where twelfthmonth seagulls stroke and float.
Where, on a dusty shore, Melville’s weaver
            god, deafened for life, sings tideless spells
            to the dice of drowned bones.
Where the thickstemm’d steamboats leap and converge.
Abandoned in mists of amorous madness,
your sailors, pentup, sit
upright, astride scallopedged spars.
The S. S. Ala Antwerp

now remember kid, put me out at three. She sails on time.

Your dream or Uncle Untereker’s ?

Suddenly you see standing on the shore
just above the falls an enormous naked
Negro.

You can’t keep your eyes off his huge penis.
Even though the noise of the falls is deafening,
and you are thoroughly frightened,
you keep watching.

Suddenly you realize
that you are naked, too. The boat
is at the very brink of the falls
now, and you feel yourself covered
with shame.

Your own penis is tiny as a baby’s,
and you force yourself to look at it.

Some men take their liquor slow and count.
Unfettered the sea is cruel.

                                  . . . let the waves rear
like flat lily petals on the sea’s white
throat. This transitional place imagined again.