Poem: All at Once

All at Once

Even with a faint wind, the rigging creaks.
Low waves slap against the side of the hull.
Breathe deep, you can smell the pitch
carefully applied between the lapstrake sides.

You look up in wonder
at the lines and pullies,
the intricate spiderweb of rope and hardware
waiting for the call to set sail.

And, once you hear that call from the stern,
hands jump to work. A dozen men, more,
untying, pulling, mostly together.
Sails fall, fill with air,

Finding that perfect angle to capture the slow breeze,
just enough to move the behemoth to sea.
Calls. Counter calls from deck and masts
until at last you are out of the bay, into the ocean.

It is a beautiful dance. A beautiful thing to watch
and experience, the coming together of seamen,
muscles and sinew and mind, ropes and wood and iron.
bending the wind.

This is not how you have traveled.
Your boats have been small, not ships
but tiny craft with a single sail.
A single rope and a single rudder, all you need

to set sail and move from here to there,
a lightweight kind of craft. A wave dancer,
a capturer of the lightest wind
and create speed and movement.

It will not take you as far, this light boat.
But for now, it is enough. Your spirit dances with you,
able to feel the movement in your skin, in your bones,
like the perfect love, comfortable and thrilling, all at once.

About this poem

A poem about sailing. A poem about love. A poem about the nature of Journeys. Poetry is never about one thing,


PS: The picture was taken at Mystic Seaport, CT. This picture below is the last sailboat I owned, a Starcraft Skylark. a tunnel hull wonder of speed and stability.


  1. Sailing was one of my real loves in life. It began on my wooden pram sailboat, named Little Dipper, when I was 8 years old and sailed it up and down the Toms River in New Jersey out into the Barnegat Bay. I still have the rudder from Little Dipper hung on the wall in my study. I miss those beautiful days as a little boy combining the wind in the sails guiding the sailboat forward using nothing but God’s power. God bless! Dr. Jim Brown

    • I learned early too, in a Penguin class wooden boat. My dad had a habit of buying a wrecked boat every fall. Fixing it up all winter and spring. Using it all summer and then selling it and repeating the cycle all over. Some years a sailboat. Some years a motorboat. I never cared for the motor boats, but loved the sail boats. I am thinking about buying another one, despite my age. I loved it that much, ‘

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