There is a splinter in my head

That won’t allow me settle down.

When told to laugh, it makes me frown.

Why wasn’t it a wheel instead?


I could be happy with a wheel

Or, say, a flag, a drum, a ladle,

A coin wrought from precious metal.

A gentle rose could make me feel


At ease. But no, a roseless thorn,

The shortest straw has been the lot

My fate pulled out of the pot

That summer eve when I was born.


And now my footsteps in the blue

Of empty deck at night resound,

Disturbing slumber, safe and sound,

Of other passengers and crew.


And waves that whispered them to sleep

Just make me nauseous. And I worry,

Like Thomas in that bedtime story,

The hidden captains of this ship

Are dead. Long dead, though never buried.


I see companionships in cobwebs,

Hear songs in creaking of the hull.

I look for beauty where the light ebbs,

For truth in ravings of the gulls.


I’m neither fit for those above me,

Nor those below. I have no wings.

I have no faith in solid things.

I cannot answer those who love me.


What life is this? the voices mutter.

I grip the rail. The bulwarks shudder.

A leap away the billows crest.

They promise me eternal rest

In liquid chambers of the deep,

But death is just another sleep.

Another way not to exist.

I’d rather peer into the mist,

Unmoving for a thousand years,

And be there first when it appears,

A strip of land on the horizon,

A reef, a monster, or a glow,

A lantern swinging from a bow,

A foreign ship to feast my eyes on.


And maybe on its gloomy deck

There’ll be a splinter, peering back.