Cape Horn | Jack D. Harvey

Read the nebulous twilight
before you try to take wing
against the night,
black as a crack
or bright with the moon;
read the silvery leaves
of the willows
before you venture midstream
in a canoe silent as the grass.

All the loose beginnings,
the ventures undertaken, understood
turn on dangerous flights;
benevolence of angels
or devils,
freshening the poorest enterprise.
The die, once cast,
turns joyous, nervous,
in the air,
no longer a cube
in fateful repose
but a revolving shape,
ending its journey
and beginning anew.

Let go! Hold fast!
Under white cliffs
by a far-off sea
ships are drawn up,
the argosy assembled.

It’s time to leave now,
time to strike out
new ways,
leave
before bell rings,
or letters come,
before cock crows,
or the law is changed;
cross the hall, the threshold,
shut the door behind you;
leave the old land.

There before you
grim and shining,
the sea’s unblinking eye,
the voyage south;
again and again
against the cold,
against the antipodes
that restless bitter water,
rising and falling,
that shouting restless voice,
warring against the night,
borne away on the wind.

Beyond Patagonia,
beyond the unsinging lines
of enormous deliberate seas,
a dream, your dream,
in the coming dark
bright as a bird;
again and again
rising
at world’s end
the loom of the cape;
again and again,
restless, monotonous,
the same fateful danger,
the same fateful repose.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Bay Area Poets’ Coalition, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, N.Y. He was born and worked in upstate New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired.

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