The Great Sea March

on giving up and accepting you can never leave the sea
10/04/2022. total words: 260

There is saltwater in my eyes and in my veins and ah,
what more am I the jester with his jangling bells? To catch a plane to the eastern
shields of somewhere else, and leave behind an ocean of tears?

I drive over the ridge of the south-barren pines and my heart-
my damned beating heart it unclenches in sight of the welcome,
rolling waves. I don’t need to translate the speedometer as it hums for another few miles
at least until I’m past that invisible line and the speedometre slows to the Canadian speed limit.

Still the dreams of pear-fruit and dew in the grass haunt me, still
do I plan for a home somewhere else, on someone else’s turf of great, drowned
waves on the eastern shores of a life I’ve never lived. Still do I turn
my license plate to the setting sun. Still do I toss the anchor westward behind me in the water.

I go north. I’ll go east. Tie me down to the waves and I’ll
figure out a way to fly; wings don’t turn to fins. Cross my handlebars and
hope to drown, the tide is low over the afternoon wind at Peace Arch and nothing
in my traitorous, survival-disregarding soul refuses to sing at that shimmering surface.

There is saltwater in my eyes and in my veins and ah,
who am I but the deaf conductor of the great sea march? What more am I,
what more can I possibly be, than a man who could never leave the west sea’s shores?


Caught in a third-floor elective classroom. The Great Sea March is the extra-credit poem about driving back from Washington with a motorcycle and a speedometre in miles, coming up over the hill and catching sight of the sea. It’s the poem that says “Carlow is landlocked, you moron, you’re going to end up in Galway if you move to Ireland because you can’t leave the sea”. It’s the poem that says I’m Irish-hearted and Vancouver-borne, and learning to find the contrariness of my existence funny instead of irritating.