Sailing long poem

Photo by Lisa Widerberg

Assess the world upside down—literally—
Standing in the doorway—
Then upside down—in the apartment on Prescott St—
Through one’s legs—everything
Makes about as much sense
As anything ever does.


I am hoarse with the contrived implications,
Weary with the jib permutations
Which don’t quite congeal or conceal.
My sailor from the ship that has never
Come in.

I need to give a kiss goodbye
But my lips can’t reach—they beseech
With a twitch and a sigh—
A whisper of rustling
Sentiment, maybe entices,
Devises a way to make
A message known—
A Morse code of sorts.


Back upside down, too much wine
At dinner perhaps or some other intoxicating
Mishap, the fizzle of blood contuses the face,
Kaleidoscopes the view which assails
Like hail: sun-flowers, brown-brimmed
Hat, pair of blue eyes, crisp flannel
Trousers, door with a wood frame,
Shadows, black and white linoleum.
But I’m looking for a sailor’s cap.


Upright, up right, all right as rain
Which pours in angular streams
From a slightly tilted globe
Which is still a world—
Someone’s world.


I go to the front window, fingertips
Trace the path of raindrops
As they glide down the windowpanes,
Feeling all at sea.

What is the key to all of this?
Next time I will attempt to discern
More keenly who is knocking
At the door and learn
What the code for love is.


For now though, I will gaze
Pass the bushes near the window,
Crane my neck over the tall office
And apartment buildings,
Through the dark stormed-sky
And strive to see the tall masts
Of ships.

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Barbara Matteau

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My poems have appeared in such varied publications as Fulcrum, Dancing Shadow Review, Maryland Review, the Dudley Review and the Antigonish Review. I also write short stories and plays. I work at the Center for African Studies at Harvard where we provide support for various African and Africanist pursuits.
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2 Comments on "Sailing"

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Chandrama Deshmukh

As I read your poem I was visualizing your thoughts and they seemed pretty interesting 🙂
A refreshingly different and well written piece.


Sailing Ship

Sailing Ship short poem

Starting my day with your smile Sigh! I am now all left with fright and bile Sauntering on street last night requesting God to send you back in this lifetime Suddenly I was taken aback in time Sweet was your