The Beautiful Siren, The Ugly Witch, Songs of the Sea

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A book of poems and pictures conjured in my mind those years working aboard ship. Passing the time with the beauty of the sea.

A book of poems and pictures conjured in my mind those years working aboard ship. Passing the time with the beauty of the sea.

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  • 1. First Edition Copyright © 1992 Gerald J. FurnkranzSecond Edition Copyright © 2007 Gerald J. Furnkranz
  • 2. Dedication: To the Sea and those whohelped me to understand her, in sodoing, helped me to understandmyself.
  • 3. Table of ContentsLonely Voyage…………………………………………………….. 1The Beautiful Siren, The Ugly Witch……………………………... 7The Mariner’s Idol………………………………………………..... 13The Sailor’s Prayer (Don’t Bury Me At Sea)……………….……… 17Laughing Seagull…………………………………………………. 21Curtain of Fog…………………………………………………….. 23Empty Harbor……………………………………………………… 25Silent Fog (Fog Thought) ………………………………………… 29A Storm…………………………………………………………… 31The Sea……………………………………………………………. 33Looking Out To Sea……………………………………………….... 37Gazing Upon The Water (Harbor Autumn)……………………........ 39Captain Garth……………………………………………………... 45The Farewell………………………………………………………. 53The Sea’s Romance……………………………………………….... 55Channel Fever……………………………………………………... 61Her (The Ship)…………………………………………………….. 69The Mermaid………………………………………………………. 75To The Past………………………………………………………... 77Return To The Sea……………………………………………….... 81
  • 4. List Of PaintingsSailing On Another World (Photograph)……………………IntroductionLooking Into The Jaws Of Hell (Acrylic Painting)………………..... 6The Guardian (Photograph)……………………………………….... 12Harbor Dawn (Acrylic Painting)……………….…………………... 24Duel At Dawn (Oil Painting)………………………………………. 28Looking Out To Sea (Acrylic Painting)……………………………... 36Hudson River Portage (Oil Painting)………………………………. 41Elusive Horizon (Photograph) ……………………………………… 42The Loner (Photograph)……………………………………………. 43The USS President (Oil Painting)…………………………………. 44Coming Home (Oil Painting)………………………………………. 51Rugged Coast (Oil Painting)………………………………………. 59The Sentinel (Oil Painting)………………………………………… 63Bloody Sunset (Oil Painting)………………………………………. 73New York Harbor Dream (Oil Painting)…………………………….. 79Voyage Of The Mind(Photograph)…………………………………... 85
  • 5. Foreword A Letter To The Sea Once you were my enemy, and to this day, I must say, I judged you much tooharshly. I thought you were lulling me into non-existence with your sorcery. Now I knowall you were doing was molding me. I am not saying that you weren’t treacherous. I know you were after my blood. Butwhen you came, you came head on, and we fought face to face. Then I knew what I wasafter and I was strong, but I was wrong. For, I would have been much better off if you had gotten hold of me. Instead, I amin the grips of society. I am becoming what people want me to be. Then they say I’vechanged. Yes, they are right! I am not the same, and that is why I’m shamed. I no longer see the things you taught me to see, or feel those things you taught me tofeel. I have no heart or soul. I am sad, because I once thought I had some inner beauty. I have come to face another enemy. In the years to come I may see it differently.But, even as an enemy, you gave me something. This new enemy has taken away whatyou gave me. Perhaps I will be left with something from this encounter that willstrengthen me also. This new encounter has cost me dearly. I am facing the witchcraft of industry.What you have given me has helped me to survive thus far. How much longer I can, I donot know. Perhaps you are the sorceress I believed and you have sent me here to test and temperme again. Maybe you did it to make me realize that I didn’t hate you, but that I have awarm place I my heart and mind for you April 29, 1981
  • 6. Lonely VoyageSilence, sheaths the night in Neptune’s Kingdom, where time stands still and falls away.Where a young lad takes the challenge of the sea, his spirit dwindling, with each day.The sea draws him on, with a sweet salt spray, carried upon the wispy wind.Luring him to a long forgotten place, feeding upon his lonely mind.Darkness blankets the ocean’s crystalline surface, disguising that which really is.Creeping into his field of vision, destroying what once was his.He looks into the abyss beyond, seeing flashes of light that are not there.Sailing upon a dreary course, he knows not to where. 1
  • 7. The stars shine hopefully in the sky, trying to light a path.For the salvation of a lonely man, to help find what life has.A guiding bell buoy sings in the distance, playing a hymn of emptiness.Neptune’s carillon tells the tale, of what is to pass.In the morning, a young man went to sea, seeking fame at any cost.Evening arrived, an old man came ashore, to find what he had lost.He gave his happiness, to a cruel mistress, the possessive sea,And his youth, during a single day, whose end shall never be. July 12, 1973 2
  • 8. The Beautiful Siren, The Ugly WitchI have no love at all for her, perhaps deep feelings; bordering on hate.When she beckons, I always return, is this to be my fate?She is a siren to all mariners, luring them to journey endlessly.She is a terrible beast to mighty ships, the ever humbling sea.Using her great beauty, she pleases the eye, with paintings beyond compare.She snares the wandering mind, and forces it to stare.A soft, salty spray, floats upon the wind, perfume scented by the sea.She puts one thought into a lonely man, the obsession to always be free. 7
  • 9. But, the sea is a wily sorceress, so sneaky in her evil ways.She fills man’s brains with freedom, but shackles them in chains.Fish are imprisoned in her depths, men by an endless thought.The gulls fly free, laughing down, On fools who think, but know not of what.I would be free, if I had my choice, like a gull upon the breeze.Not a mass of stagnant weed, drifting upon the seas.Don’t embrace my mind, with your sad song, or sights and sounds of fantasy.Don’t pull me down into your depths, beyond the realm of reality. 8
  • 10. I know your awesome capabilities, with gray haze you’ll veil my mind.I will not let this happen to me, I have a course to find.Darkness creeps into the air, quiet fills the night.The sea is weaving another spell, in the lonely absence of light.Waves pounding against the hull, with an eerie rhythm.Enticing the mind to drift away, shanghaiing another victim.Don’t lose me in your solitude, in your land of endless time.Don’t find a place for me here, where there is no reason or rhyme. 9
  • 11. I know what course I’m steering, I’ll not forget the way.I know where life is a breathing thing, not a body in decay.So, you might as well abandon me, milady of deceit!For I’m no longer a lover’s clown, I shall witness your defeat.You’ve whisked away many a fool, at times I think I’m one,Into a life of endless thoughts, until their life is gone.This is only a short visit, I’ll pack my bag someday.I’ll throw it over my shoulder, and be on my way. May 6, 1975 10
  • 12. The Mariner’s IdolSilver feathers shining, gleaming in the sun.White on blue contrasting, floating in the sky.To here and there a glance, scanning King Neptune’s realm.Majestically inspecting, the bounds of his domain.An observer of the earth, from the heavens above.A guardian to the gods, riding on the wind.Silently he cruises, never with inattention.Patiently he waits, seldom standing still. 13
  • 13. Slicing through the air, diving to the ocean beneath.Sturdy wings extending, flying to be free.With powerful thrusts, he rises,Whirlwinds swirling, about his frame.No longer earth bound, lifting to the clouds,Skyward in continuous flight, soaring to the stars.Silver wings unbending, powered by great purpose.Gliding to the moon, journey into dreams. 14
  • 14. Seagull of quiet beauty, laughing at the earth.Seeing the joke to life, knowing what it’s worth.You’ve trekked from here to there, and back again.To the magic kingdom, and reality.You’ve traveled from time to place, and in time again.Into the dark beyond, and beyond space.Movement of the life below, never escaped your notice.The beauty of the celestial sight, has fallen upon your eyes. June 7, 1975 15
  • 15. The Sailor’s Prayer(Don’t Bury Me At Sea)Don’t bury me at sea, to drift on an endless tide.Don’t throw me to the depths, where the lost souls do hide.Down to the ocean floor, where darkness and silence reign.Down ten thousand fathoms, far beyond life’s pain.Don’t toss me to the sea creatures, that pick your cold wet bones.The fish that swim so deep, blackness is their home.Down to the cold hard bottom, devoid of light and color.Down to a frightful fate, where memories do not follow. 17
  • 16. Don’t wrap my body in canvas, or tie my legs with weights.So you don’t drown my spirit, in a world it hates.Down to the stagnant sands, time has long forgot.Down to the lifeless plankton, to lie amongst and rot.Don’t throw me to the currents, sent on an endless journey.Where I will have no choice, a path is chosen for me.Down with the many dead men, floating endlessly.Down with the wandering spirits, traveling restlessly. 18
  • 17. Don’t slide my body from a plank, into the breaking waves.Don’t send me on that search, among the long lost graves.Down where gallant ships do lie, making their last stand.Down where ships sailed to their deaths, and by the dead are manned.If I should find a watery grave, slipping to the depths.If I should sail an endless course, forever paying my debts.Perhaps I’ll follow a friendly current, maybe I’ll find more.Perhaps I’ll not drift endlessly, and someday I’ll drift ashore. July 11, 1975 19
  • 18. Laughing SeagullSilver seagull flying free,Laughing down at me,What is so funny that you see,What is the joke; what can it be.Gallant gull preened and proud,Flying high above a cloud,With screaming voice so very loud,What is it that you shout.Bird of beauty, what’s that you say,Tell us how to live each day,If we don’t listen, we will pay,I know you have a way.Sailing smoothly in the sky,Wings of white to help him fly,Mocking us when we don’t try,Silently wondering why. 21
  • 19. Gliding high and feeling pretty,Gazing down upon the city,Filled with people, always witty,With a look of pity. July 12, 1975 22
  • 20. Curtain Of FogFog drifts slowly over the water’s surface,forming a curtain surrounding our lives.A horn’s hollowness sounds through dead air, tolling the resounding loneliness.The ship surges gently over southerly swells, forever steaming, never nearing the elusive curtain.Only the sun shows over the top, as though the sun of another world.Nothing to be heard, nothing to be seen, except things generated from within.Traveling into a lost universe, unexplored by the eyes of man.Sailing into a time unknown, not comprehended by the mind of man.Time, space and reality are gone, forever it seems, until the fog dissipates.As the fog is burned away, or blown to sea, the earth is born again. August 1, 1975 23
  • 21. Empty HarborIn the harbor there is no presence, no feelings that are warm.It only completes the emptiness, to watch the coming storm.Tanks of oil are the scenery, decks of steel, wood pilings and such.Along with piers, whose days have passed, abandoned buildings, a gruesome touch.Tons of scrape metal mar the horizon, splayed in mountainous piles.Trees and grass grow far away, filthy weeds despoil the ground for miles.Tall brick stacks belch out black smoke, vomiting to the sky.Ominous bridges stand far away, letting the world go by. 25
  • 22. Cars and buses and trucks, speed by in their daily routine.We see the people living, while we remain unseen.Decayed lumber makes its rounds, with garbage floating through the harbor,A moat of dark oily water, surrounds a ship at anchor.Steel plates under foot, our world to walk upon.Hard and cold to weary legs, yet we must go on.Metal walls entrap our being, caged in silent emptiness.An isolated room holds our thoughts, Keeping grand visions from us. 26
  • 23. The thunder of pistons pounding, sounding in our heads.The conversations of many a night, shall remain unsaid. September 19, 1975 27
  • 24. Silent Fog (Fog Thought)Slowly steaming in silent fog, gently lifting, lightly falling with each swell.Thought, in quiet solitude soothes the mind, the turmoil of constant contemplation quelled.In the pilot house, alone, with time suspended, eyes, staring to an invisible horizon.A damp, suffocating haze surrounding, Will the fog release the sun?Upon the ship, floating, on the sea, a mind in air, searching the world, for an answer.Braving the limitless fog, a limiting grayness, knowing not what lies before her.Slowly, smoothly, lifting, steadily, softly falling, sliding over glassy swells.Waves pounding persistently upon the surging hull, rolling rhythmically to a buoy’s bell. September 21, 1975 29
  • 25. The StormThe sea is feeling restless, unsettled from within.Waves are rolling from the east, where the waves begin.Molten gray and boiling, she is an awesome sight.Crashing her strength against the bow, forcing men to fight.The wind allies the water, in her awesome fury.Blowing, against our course, making men feel weary.The gusting wind whips salt spray, high into the air.Throwing it to the four winds, so all will get their share. 31
  • 26. The rain pounds and beats and hammers, down, upon us every second,To keep those who are timid, waiting at her beckon. September 25, 1975 32
  • 27. The SeaThe sea has broken many a man, as easily as a great ship’s masts.The sea has destroyed many a life, and denied to many a past.The waves and winds are grueling, pounding on a man.The ice and snow are cooling, but not cooling to the damned.A wind so cold it almost burns, like desire from within.But not as painful as the loneliness, that never has an end.Upon the vast, wide oceans, sail thousands of lost souls.In the hulls of aimless hulks, live men that have no goals. 33
  • 28. Home, but a fleeting thought, family a faceless recollection.Friends are but an ancient myth, at sea there is no affection.The sea has detained many a man, imprisoning them in a bottle.Where the sea and sky are without beauty, but a thin glass wall.The ocean in her fury, can be cold and can be cruel.The sea with her peaceful beauty, can make any man the fool.She will play with the stubborn, and she’ll slay the weak.The strong will fight her endlessly, but always find defeat. 34
  • 29. Stand before her without fear, knowing where you stand.For if she judges you meaningless, she’ll crush you with her hand.To scream and stubbornly defy her, is to play her courtly fool.To let her temper your spirit, is to make her your tool.Let her wash you where she may, but swim before you drown.Standing strong upon the ship’s deck, your glass upon high ground.Once you’ve let her build, move on, for she will destroy.Cause she is a fickle woman, and you another toy. September 26, 1975 35
  • 30. Looking Out to SeaThere is a blue sky above, on this clear and sunny day.Beauty looms all around, my mind is far away.Sailing along, I see places, that we shared together.Things that we enjoyed, with one another.When I spent my time with you, the world seemed somehow changed.She was miraculously transformed, with a beauty strange.We looked at the waves, rolling in from sea.Once they meant loneliness, but no longer mean that to me. 37
  • 31. Even towering dark clouds, at times seeming a threat.Show now only friendliness, that seldom brings regret.The North wind so cold, sharp as a savage blade.Drew us together for warmth, and made us unafraid.Now, only the memories, keep me company.Looking over the ocean, the horizon is empty.Things that are familiar, hold nothing that I knew.I see through and beyond them, looking for you. September 30, 1975 38
  • 32. Gazing Upon The Water (Harbor Autumn)Brown leaves upon the water, drifting with the ebbing tide.Journeying to the open sea, after they have died.Oak leaves of irregular shape, five fingered maples too.With a hundred other kinds, floating on a sea so blue.From their homes upon the trees, falling to the water and death,Leaving what they knew behind, drawing their last breath.Some trees on shore are multicolored, most are stripped and bare.For their end has come for this year, as has come fall’s despair. October 27, 1975 39
  • 33. Captain GarthCaptain Garth was a mighty sailor, and he was a kind man.One arm held the fist of vengeance, the other a helping hand.His face was of chiseled granite, his chest like a monstrous boulder.His legs were stout as cannon barrels, his arms, giant oaks from awesome shoulders.He drove his clipper hard, but drove her gently.Around the world to China, fighting the savage sea.He used the wind as others could, bending her to his will.Sailing under a cloud of canvas, when other ships lay still. 45
  • 34. Storms subsided before him, turning silent in his path.For they feared this lonely man, because they feared his wrath.Once, in the fury of his rage, he shouted a defiance of the devil.He said he’d take a cargo to hell, in spite of all that’s evil.One dark evening a commission he received, for a thousand passengers and their delivery.To a far away uncharted land, beneath the earth and sea.At dusk they did board his ship, and below the decks were jammed.He knew that Satan had heard his words, and his cargo was the damned. 46
  • 35. On the dark and dreary day, He set sail on the evening tide.His cargo a ship filled with lost souls, he listened, as they cried.He set a course for Heaven, pleading with the Lord.To look at his forlorn cargo, and take them all aboard.As a tribute to courage, and to honor the man.The Lord opened his gates, to extend his hand.Having tricked old beelzebub, the captain did return.His contract lay unfulfilled, perhaps, he would burn. 47
  • 36. As he sailed his chosen course, a tempest did arise.A hurricane of awesome force, a typhoon of unmatched size.The masts, they creaked under it, the rigging did stretch and strain.The sails overflowed with violent wind, the hull did cry in pain.Garth had never seen the like, of that devil wind.Then he knew why she blew, because he had not sinned.The contract he had signed, had never been met.Payment Satan meant to have, that would mean Garth’s death. 48
  • 37. Satan raised the seas and winds, commanding with his will.The ship began to heel, her hold began to fill.The wind with strength unnatural, and screaming her contempt.Joined the sea in killing, the captain for his attempt.The masts strained then splintered, fell into the water.The rigging like a spider’s web, the crew like flies within her.His ship was racked by an awesome wave, then she broke in half.Captain Garth stood his quarterdeck, and the devil heard him laugh. 49
  • 38. The devil looked in terror, a chill ran up his spine.He knew he would again meet this foe, in very little time.Waves broke o’er the gunnels, in seconds she did founder.The captain still upon her quarter deck, with her went asunder.God did reach out, to save a floundering soul.But the captain had a purpose, and told God of his goal.He could not go to heaven, to hell he chose to go.In life he fought the sea, now the devil was his foe. October 24, 1975 50
  • 39. The FarewellIt is time for me to leave again, I am being called away.The wind is blowing, the waves are breaking, the sky is cold and gray.When I’m with you, the sun does shine, happiness fills each day.A force beckons me from afar, I can no longer stay.A solitary seagull, my only company, pierces the still air with her cry.Echoing the very question in your mind, asking and wondering why.The time has come that I must go, perhaps never to return.Your image is etched upon my mind, for you, my love does burn. November 17, 1975 53
  • 40. The Sea’s RomanceThe sea’s romance, with breaking waves.New places to see, with the coming days.A great adventure, in the fresh salt air.You mark your limits, by what you dare.Such times are gone, like the passing sail.Freedom has been whisked away, by an ever blowing gale.Hulks without beauty, now inhabit the seas.Repulsive to the eye, huge metal beasts. 55
  • 41. Ports of call, the ugliness of tanks.Pipes in hideous embrace, cover the banks.Acrid smells, fill your nose.The air is heavy, all to close.Thick with flavor, that fills your mouth.And taints your tongue, with air that’s sour.The water is black, but not with depth.But dirty black oil, that bring fish death. 56
  • 42. The oceans are vast, reaching the ends of the earth.They sink to great depths, where adventure is given birth.Where a man can live, and challenge the sea.Where a man can be, what he wants to be. November 19, 1975 57
  • 43. Channel FeverI see something on the horizon, growing larger with each hour.It is the first sight of land. I think I have channel fever.A gray mass spreads before me, beneath the warm, sunny sky.Turning gray to green as we approach, seagulls greeting; then they fly.Cliffs and rocks are now distinguished, houses appear upon the land.The sea buoy rings a merry welcome, like a big brass band.Steaming past buoy on buoy, till we’re under the protection of the hills.The tide rushing to our aid, as though it knows my will. 61
  • 44. It is clear to me what I left behind, gazing upon the shore.Life with solid land beneath my feet, like I had known before.Slowly, the landmarks pass, a lighthouse, trees, a smokestack.The breeze is warm and friendly, finally welcoming me back.The pier we will tie up to, comes within my sight.Closer we drift toward the dock, a line ashore, drawing tight.There upon the old wooden pier, her hair blowing in the wind.More than all the beauty of the seas, she is my journey’s end. November 25, 1975 62
  • 45. Her (The Ship)The north wind in bitterness screams, like a raging barbarian.Swooping down across the seas, with salt spray upon the wind.The ocean boiling with fury, her grayness casts a dread.The bow crashes beneath the waves, as if the ship were dead.Her deck disappears before my eyes, hidden by the sea.But she rises to try nevertheless, struggling just to be.Again she crashes, down and under, spray shooting toward the sky.Waves breaking over the bow, still she does not die. 69
  • 46. The coldness of the merciless gale, Form ice upon the rigging.Freezing the spray the moment it lands, To all her body it’s clinging.The seagulls brave the storm, wings rigid by will.Defying the savage from the north, they ride him till he’s still.Once more she rises, with all her strength, water streaming from her decks.To fight again; it is her way, not to fall among the wrecks. December 23, 1975 70
  • 47. The MermaidLost in the obscurity of the closing squall, while sailing the deep blue sea.Rain beating down, upon my face, attempting to humble me.Giving in to great weariness, from this never ending fight.I searched for truth and wisdom, and a guiding light.One warm and sunny, summer’s day, I saw a strange fish swim by.It was a mermaid who waved to me, with a sparkle in her eye.She showed me warmth and tenderness, a course to take me home.She taught me what it is to love, and not to be alone. March 9, 1976 75
  • 48. To The PastThe snow is riding, on the driving wind, turning the night to gray.Being shoved across the deck, never in one place to stay.Distant lights dimmed by a snowy veil, seeming so many years ago.Like whale oil lamps along the streets, with a little hazy glow.There is a brigantine tied to the pier, majestic and mysterious.So close, yet so far away, as the wind brings another gust.The water front bleak and dreary, blanketed in quietness.Causes people to stay behind closed doors, escaping the eerie white blindness. 77
  • 49. The wind does chill me, mercilessly to the bone.The driving snow makes me look aside, with the force it’s blown.I think of a bright, warm fireplace, in a cozy room.A glass of wine, a book to read, a place that I call home.This too, seems many years gone by, while the wind howls overhead.I know there’ll be warmth to enjoy, before the day I’m dead. January 12, 1978 78
  • 50. Return To The SeaLittle light, alone, upon the sea tonight.I was once a part, of that little light.Breakers, rolling in from sea,Beckoning, to me.You are drawing me, I sense the attraction.You are calling, I feel a reaction.Once, with you, I walked the world alone.With you, I remained unknown. 81
  • 51. In the dark, upon the beach.I gaze into your eyes, and I reach.But, you have taught me, well.I will not fall, before your spell.I hear the music, your waves play.And I listen, with dreams of day.I love the smell, of the sea air.I see the beauty, that baits the snare. 82
  • 52. Your salt water, gives me strength.The sea breeze, gives strides of length.In you, I am.But, I am, my own man.And we are allies, though you test me so.You are my friend, that I know.What lies before me, draws me to you.But, the ghosts in the night, scare me too. 83
  • 53. In all this, I see.The path, for me.I will come back, at times.And, I will leave, to climb.So long, friend.Until, we meet again. March 22, 1984 84
  • 54. The Author The sea is a kingdom of peace and tranquility. Picturesbeyond compare are painted daily. She holds a beauty andan understanding that comes from the heavens. To work at sea is pain. Pushing your body to its limits,then pushing some more, passing out, never sleeping.Sweating, dirty and rusty sweat, oozing from your pores.Reaching a point where freezing cold, wind, rain, ice, anddriving snow can be enjoyed, while the world hides behindclosed doors. Where each day is a battle, each step is a fightand being weary and sick never happens because there is notime. The sea is a builder and destroyer. She helps you findthe strength within, or she kills you in one of her many ways.The sea brings out the best in a man or the worst in a man.