Crossing The Strait Of Juan De Fuca On The Victoria Clipper During A Storm by Dan O’Connell

It was the longest hour of my life
when I began to understand monsters
arising out of the sea, swallowing ships.

The pitch of blue menace
in its white collar
and only a dream of land
like a failed plan to reach
a planet in space.

Six foot waves rushing against the boat
from due west, bow rising and slamming down
like a body falling from a great height,
pushed from a cliff.

Deck hands tossed about like bowling pins,
passengers gripping their wits,
stomachs a flock of gulls,
my mind bloated with sailors lost
in water.

Sixty minutes of near-open ocean
is enough to teach us the meaning
of our vast nothingness.

But this was a ferry full of U.S. citizens
so when we finally docked safely,
the ones heaving and panting the most –
who stood to learn an immeasurable lesson –
wanted their money back, and shouted curses
at our only captain.

Dan O’Connell is a four-time award winning poet whose work has appeared regularly in small and large publications since 1986, most recently Big Bell Magazine (2016) and America Magazine (Foley Poetry Prize, 2015). Dan O. is a former Philosophy and Rhetoric professor. He currently lives in San Francisco, where he has his own law practice and occasionally teaches law.

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