The Old Sea Captain


He has no ship,

sits on the pier

like a landlocked buoy

watching the world

through frosted sea glass eyes.

Head as smooth as the Ailsa Craig

his magnificent beard unfurls

like a parchment.

His story is written in invisible ink

for anyone to see.

Time has printed a map of the world,

the places he has seen

on the back of each hand

mottled and veined,

taut and strained

as the ropes of a new rigged ship,

each fixed to the turning drum

of a music box unwinding

with every beat of the sailor’s dance

that twangs and booms

inside an old tea chest.


Passers-by stop to toss a coin

into the well of his upturned cap.

And make a wish

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