The Seafarer


In the Blue Expanse, by Arkady Rylov, Wikipedia


He had been away,

months or decades,

so long he’d lost track of time

though he sometimes heard it murmur

like a stream,

it flowed one way, splintering off occasionally

into muddy pools,


bogged down,

but he was an old man now,

and somehow that stream was flowing faster,

He wondered why that was,

why the present raced by in a flash,

as he got older,

glory and adventure were overrated,

he thought, though he’d had both,

he’d fought monsters

and the sirens’ song

he splintered ships

and quashed rebellions

sparked by greed and arrogance.

He was called Odysseus,

but he was every sailor,

every wanderer.

He wondered if his wife was still alive,

or his dog.

(He loved that dog.)

He watched the sky light up,

pearlescent, glowing, reflecting,

he wondered if the gods favored him this time,

hoping profoundly that they did,

he’d had his fill of wandering.

Above him, the geese performed an aerial ballet,

he watched them,

as they changed direction,

he followed, setting a new course

steering his ship



This is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Poetry Challenge. This week’s prompt is the painting above.  Suggested words: Aerial/profound/murmur/splintering/spark  There is no particular poetic form this week; mine is free verse.





33 thoughts on “The Seafarer

  1. I think your free verse is quite lyrical and I like how you put the part about his love for the dog, in apprentheses. It is saying I misspelled this, oops? Cannot guess how to fix this and am heading off to bed.
    Merril, I like how time slows down in muddy pools but flows like streams, at times. You have such a variety of “voices” and styles, I admire this. 🙂

  2. I too see the longing for home in this painting…you’ve captured the feeling, and the idea of aging really reinforces it. And of course, adding a myth is always good! (K)

  3. Those first 11 or so lines, especially! So lyrical and true. This sent me to Tennyson’s poem as well, and I love the contrast, how yours flows like water to his strict meter. How yours is about coming home, and his about wanting to leave…

  4. Pingback: Poetry challenge Snow geese: the entries – Jane Dougherty Writes

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