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O River! Ramble On

meander: 1. to proceed by or take a winding or indirect course. 2. to wander aimlessly; ramble It is my habit to relieve the watch no later than a quarter to the hour. This morning, I take the wheel from the 4-8 wheelsman on the last stretch of the...

My Son, My Son, What Have You Done?

Some time ago I found myself in a spot of financial bother from which the esteemed halls of academia and the pittance afforded a newly appointed assistant professor could not raise me.  I had been an avid sailor in my youth, and paid my way...

The Butcher’s Son

There’s more thanone way to skin a cat, and he should know. He is the Butcher’s son.He grew up with the scent of rendered flesh housedpermanently inhis olfactory nerve.Slept to the soundof the cleaver strikingthe chopping block,downstairs on the charnel floor.Now he...

Final Rites and Fine Rooms

for Catherine and Jack In my last hours ashore, before returning to sea, a fug of ashen gloom envelopes me and every action is invested with unnecessary import simply because the adjective ‘last’ can be attached to it.  There is my...

The Auction (1924)

They gathered on the quarter deck at the change of watch.  The wind had come down for the first time in weeks and above them the vast rigging hemmed and hawed as if in a state of quandary.  Two days ago they’d lost Jackson as he went aloft to...

The Dominant Hand

A late frost had left a thin carapace of ice on the deck, and the gathered crew trod carefully on the slippery steel in the chill of an April morning.  We drank our teas and coffees in the half-light and some smoked cigarettes as we waited for the tugboat...