Your Eyes, Oceans


An epic poem, Inspired by Khalil Gibran's The Prophet, which meditates on the idea of a single glance which sends someone on a lifelong journey from which they eventually return, unrecognizable.



Once, so terribly long ago, your eyes

Alighted on me, and in falling cast

The die of my whole life, showed me the prize

That was to be won if I could hold fast


Against the howling gales of mad fortune

which flung my vessel to the farthest reach,

held me locked in piteous extortion

No pity then to find on that scorched beach


Upon which I’d wash up, a world away

from that familiar rut I called a life

Another, and another dull today

So occupied by self-directed strife


In that brief moment, we began to dance

My soul set free, imprisoned by your glance



That dawn came angry, hard and cold

The fault, I must admit, was all my own

I drank up all my farthings, and was told

to meet the Mordant, but to come alone


The captain, such a stern man, needed hands

And, desperate for berthing, I agreed

Perhaps believing his pledge of new lands

Despite the wicked folly I did read


Upon his craggy, execrable face.

“The winds are hateful,” he whispered through his teeth

And so began the unannounced race

To some forsaken place that lay beneath.


What secret bound us, I could not be sure

Some fetching madness did his aims obscure.



II (First Meeting)

We met amidst the stacks of books

- or was it, then, the market stalls?

Of some pacific, coastal town

whose name, in highest reverence

will go forever unspoken.


“The mayor’s daughter,” someone said;

I cursed my pristine foul luck

That I would fall so hopelessly

for the child of authority.

We were so young then, and so free

- free for one last gasping moment.


Seeing my decrepit state

And my need of sustenance

You handed me a piece of fruit

- or was it, now, a luscious book?

Slowly creeping infection

have you corrupted memory?


I didn’t think to smell for poison

But then it would not have mattered - 

You would have hidden it too well

Effected administration

with perfect, silent stealth.


That wondrous laugh - so light, so soft

a buoyancy that sought the clouds

and yet, in lifelong retrospect, 

A smashing thunderclap of ruin

Portent of my destruction

harbinger of utter doom

and yet also a sweet foretaste

of my most cryptic salvation.


Some angel’s breath fell on my ear

But oh, that angel - in disguise!

Face hidden behind a mask

and that laugh so well transformed

by some dark ancient magick.


If I had known what lay in store

I would have prayed for this, and more:


Merciful God, wash out this stain

this blasted mark of endless pain!


For when, soon hence, I’m laid to rest

I will have been both cursed and blessed


to bear the scars of adoration

nurse the wounds of dedication.


Vast love, triumphant defeating

arose (by chance?) from that first meeting.


III (The Captain's Secret)

The captain, for the first few quiet days

Contrived, upon pretense, to let me rest.

He cried with an inebriated zest,

“Before too long you’ll work a thousand ways!” 


The ship, though small, comprised a maze

And, he let slip, one berth contained a chest

Which, locked thrice, he, scheming, did attest

Would damn its opener into a craze.


“If you should breach those locks,” he, wide-eyed, swore

“I’d have you drawn, quartered, then burned,

and spread the ashes to the farthest ends

of this defiled earth, and hex your friends,

your family, and anyone concerned,

and worse, much worse, for you would lay in store.”


IV (Powers, Principalities, and Hosts)

And then he spoke the terrifying word

that haunted me the rest of my long days.

The wrath of some fierce beast I had incurred,

a fiend who only blackest Dark obeys.


“Your suffering would only have begun

For my terrific powers lay beyond

This world, for I give worship to the One

Who to my deepest pleadings did respond.”


I dared not ask for him to give the name

For even in the hearing, it would turn

My ears to dust, my flesh to scorching flame

And yet, for more defacing would I yearn.


The Powers, principalities, and hosts -

These he had mastered, in his haughty boasts.


To be continued...