however elegant, talisman bowsprits
cast gelatinous shadows
along shoreline and then blackened wharf
grappling irons of the hull or side gateway

expertly, the customs master inspects
postgraduate credentials in each captain’s script
and assesses the excise due

the crew, returning well-off in some dividend
of dexterity, superstition, and chance
fathoms contempt at the helm

some hauled fishing mesh or harpooned leviathans
or transposed merchandise from Shanghai or Liverpool
while privateers or warships are porcupines passing by

while on the other hand, coming downstream
through melting forest ignorance
deadly as any rip current, as any metropolis

with charts, rudimentary as
a canoe or kayak
traverse bitter

names for the same stars
argument or laughter, depending
on the embrace
in all that I found welcome

still, you know seasoned voyageurs
who will fear water

Poem copyright 2016 by Jnana Hodson
To see the full set of seacoast poems,
click here.

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