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Canvas Teen Literary Journal is published quarterly in print, ebook, web, video, and audio formats.

The Sailor's Handbook

Seamus McDonough

I. Void
From whence does the divide come,
Coming and going to split and remain
Never conquering, though. That would
Allow too much power to be lost, 
Rather gained through its own life. 
The body and mind forever there
Yet never together, like the moon
And the earth, what holds the space?
Drive, drive! A drive has begun,
Rolling and spilling to bring comfort,
But the seas do not quake for a ship alone. 
It is the moon that drives those waters
Upon the earth. The space between
Saving or not, those who ride along. 
But the choice does not exist, how
Could it?
How can the moon choose without the
Word of the earth. Or the mind without
The body. 
Division does not win. It cannot. 
The power is wasted, trying
To build upon a soft ground. 

II. Wave
What role does volume play, to think
Such an idea can kill,
Stronger than that space is sound
Surely seeing such sense in its
See? The sound sends safely,
More so than space does. 
And yet, such power can still be lost
Without medium to pass. 
These waves still steer the ship
Across the waters, but what choice
Is left for the body? 
Still there is no decision,
Whether the sails carry over the water
Or under it. Drive no more,
But drown. Can a sailor pirate
What he hears? If the mind chooses,
Does the body follow, or do the two
Have no say at all. For one must
Listen to the other, but
There is no will to tune in or

III. Revelation
The return to water is imminent,
For a ship has no use on land. 
Yet on earth there are many,
For the moon has none. 
The drive is gone, never truly
Having place, but to sail! The
Mast holds strong, through
The wind. Yet the water claims to hold
Fate? We know now that neither
Can, because in order to hold,
One must choose to release. 
So, who is it that truly grasps
Death? The reaper grim no more
Than the water or wind. But
The captain, the captain! He
Of course could be the decider. 
He does have body and mind, true
But the mind is part of the body. 
There is no space, no divide between
The two, they are one. Yes, the will
To sail is bore by the one who boards. 
There is no power above, below, or
Around him, the control is within. 

IV.  Confession
But what of the crew upon the same
Craft the captain cruises upon?
Surely they control where they go.
Yet the crew must earn their seat,
And can only wait their life lost
On land before sailing the ocean. 
For the captain never dies, with
His first mate his own son, living on
Land just like the crew. So, yes,
The captain does have the will
And will always hold it. He holds
That of the sailors, too. His ship
Being the only one to sail, although
Called by many other names. A myth
For those who have never been to
Port. The seas do not quake for the
Boat, but they do for the man who
Steers it. 


Seamus McDonough, eighteen, is a senior in high school from Wells, Maine. The son of a former English teacher, he has been exposed to the classic work of numerous writers and poets his entire life. His favorite poet is T. S. Eliot, whose poem, "The Waste Land" inspired Seamus to write "The Sailor's Handbook."

© Canvas Literary Journal 2016
Writers & Books
Rochester, NY