Outbound for Sea

Outbound for Sea by Michael Kmetz

The North African sun, still and glaring from a cloudless sky, beat down mercilessly on the little launch and its occupants. The puny engine struggled against a gentle current as it lazily cut its way through the anchorage at Suez.

Just a week earlier I was sitting in a Tampa office building interviewing for this job, which was starting to feel like a dream. But there I was, flung to the other side of the world with my shipping documents and a little duffle bag, preparing to sign aboard my first ship.

The days before arriving in Egypt were a flurry of activity, seeing doctors for inoculations and a series of thorough physicals. So much was done in a short span of time that it all seemed like a great blur, actions which had taken place in a cloud traveling at light speed. The SS Gulf Trader was returning from East Africa in ballast and was anchored somewhere just outside the canal awaiting formation of the northbound convoy to the Mediterranean Sea. She had completed discharging cargo in Sudan and was scheduled to be at a lay berth Texas in a week or so, where she would be cleaned before loading wheat for Bangladesh.

My eyes struggled to find her in the anchorage, dotted with vessels of all different types and sizes from all over the world. The tonnage amassed in this relatively small area was impressive, a tangible example of mankind’s capabilities and intelligence when determined to transform ideas into living machines.

We slipped quietly in between these sleeping giants, as if to not awaken them. In contrast to my awe and interest in this strange place, the two other onsigners with me were lost in deep conversation, to the point where it seemed they were not aware of anything around them. Both were engineering officers, engaged in dull small talk of company policies and the negative effects it had on their machinery. Occasionally they would open up a spot in the conversation, letting me in on what they meant by certain criticisms and jokes, though I understood none of it. As their dialogue rolled on, so did my scanning of the anchorage for my new home. My thoughts began to swirl around a central theme of nervous fear – imagining all the different ways one could get in trouble as a green officer on their first ship. Very few of these imagined scenarios (if any) were plausible, but convincing myself of this fact at the time was nearly impossible. Drifting in and out of this self created and untenable debate with my own imagination and cursing the flesh broiling sun, I was barely able to summon up the will to be there.

As the launch slowed and its engine quieted, my attention focused on a ship perhaps half a mile ahead of us, at rest near some containerships in a less populated section of the anchorage. Contrary to the glorified paintings in museums of proud vessels pressing doggedly through the high seas, the ship before me was simply unremarkable. Her blocky white house looked almost too big, perched atop a rusting red hull behind four neatly stowed pedestal cranes. Atop the raised fo’c’s’le deck, a puny foremast with a sunbaked anchor ball wearily announced her status. The closer we got, the more apparent her flaws became. Aside from the bridge, every deck was dotted with portholes weeping rust like sad old eyes. Topping her off was a red, white and blue stack from which a thin trail of smoke gently streamed. Despite her sad appearance, she was very much alive and waiting.

We made our approach down her starboard side and slowed to allow the seaman on watch to lower the accommodation ladder to the water’s edge. As we slid gently along her beam, her four 25-ton cranes cast intermittent shadows upon the little boat, allowing me to examine her a little more clearly.

As a “handy size” bulk carrier, she was considered small and thus versatile enough to transit any waters or canals in the world. At that moment, and from up close, she looked to me like a floating titan.

After some jockeying by the launch captain, we were positioned alongside and ready to transfer personnel and belongings across. Glancing up, I was greeted by strange faces staring down at me from the main deck and bridge wing. My knees felt weak. Grabbing the rails, my adventure began one step at a time until my boots struck the hard steel of her deck. Looking towards the stern I could see the winches of the aft mooring station, which would be my main area of responsibility during arrivals and departures, waiting silently for our first of many future encounters. Looking forward, the Number 4 crane was already released from her cradle and hoisting our luggage aboard.

Heading to the Master’s office to sign on, a huge grin spread across my face, thinking about where I was and where this journey would take me in the coming months. The realization that I was now well outside the city limits of my comfort zone raced like thunder across the great plains. My heart raced! The thrill of adventure renewed a spirit the likes of which I had never known existed within me – and I felt at that moment like pieces of myself missing since birth had been reunited.

<strong>Michael Kmetz</strong>
Michael Kmetz

Born and raised in Shelton, Connecticut and educated at Sacred Heart University and SUNY Maritime College. I satisfy my wanderlust sailing around the world in the Merchant Marine.

When I’m not working, I still enjoy traveling (the urge to explore never ends with me) photography, reading and writing about my experiences, travels and thoughts. 

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The Blanket

The Blanket by Muskan Sharma

Tired of sleepless nights, I went in search for a blanket which would bring sweet sleep to my swollen eyes. The market was painted with the beautiful colours of the fluffy fabrics. Folded in rings, some hanging from projecting beams, some laid in dusty piles, others were unravelled for the customers, while my eyes glided to the brightest shop of the market.

It relieved me to see the radiance of the rugs because it is the infinite darkness of my shabby blanket that haunts my nights. The shopkeeper displayed exactly the blanket I wanted, the brightest, thinnest and yet the warmest.

Nothing but the cage of my own fears tricked me into buying that rug without even giving me a chance to demonstrate if it could shove away the evils I was afraid of. Inevitably the night came, and it left me to conquer the darkness.

As a routine, I switched on all the lights and used my brand new blanket to insulate my body from the cold. My brain exploded with fear and disappointment to encounter darkness again. Helpless and anxious, I began walking to and fro on my bedroom floor, pondering and in the quest for the reason of this engraved fear. The banal cycle of day and night, my daily routine, the people I meet, my workplace and every trifling transaction I make were all vividly displayed in front of my eyes.

We pretend to be tigers, free and wild in the jungle of life but are beaten and filthy, trapped in human viles. Polished faces and branded clothes are lavish veils to obscure guilt and remorse.

The next day, when I met people, I knew their fears. I could penetrate through the sparkle in their eyes and could see the filth beneath it. If this is how we live, then my fear was nothing but just another expense of life.

Now, I sleep in peace with my lights off, cuddling in my blanket, knowing that at least the darkness underneath it is much more honest than the darkness outside.

<strong>Muskan Sharma</strong>
Muskan Sharma

I am Muskan, from India, an undergrad student majoring in literature. I am an avid reader and a writer. I write poems, short stories, articles and also wish to be a novelist in the future.

I feel strongly for the things around and do not shy away from voicing my opinions. Apart from literature, my interests lie in music, drawing and calligraphy.

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Colour of Humanity

Color of Humanity by Shivangi Vyas

Black, brown, white, they’d define you as per your colour…
To be known based on humankind, is it too much a favour?
The variations in skin tone weren’t anyone’s choice…
But you question the Almighty by silencing every voice.
Every human is born with blood, bones and skin
Who are you to defame the shades as sin?
Inferior or superior based on black and white
Objecting humanity by lowering your sight.
You shamelessly rob our right to equality.
Still have the guts to brag about your sanity?
Who gave you the authority to choose the prime?
Why is my complexion considered a crime?
You cross all heights by turning my black to blues
You beat up my skin, but my soul is bruised.

<strong>Shivangi Vyas</strong>
Shivangi Vyas

Graduated in Food and nutrition but passionate about poetry. I survive on coffee and sarcasm. Can befriend books more easily than humans. I’ve been writing poetry for almost five years now.

My writing reflects my personality as I confide in them. Learning with experiences and exploring myself every day. My rules are simple- Live, Laugh and polish your craft.

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A Deathbed is Too Late

A Deathbed is Too Late - a poem about consumerism

A Deathbed is Too Late by Rosa Hernandez

Here’s the sore
The one I know I can no longer ignore
My home, my car, my clothes, my shoes
Disgraced I find that I have, too
fallen ill to the disease that plagues
the privileged western race

I make up a part of that which devalues the sphere of humanity
Consumerism dangled pretty things on the tv screen
I walked into the web of materialistic idolatry
Believing the void could be fixed with extravagant things.

How wrong am I? How wrong are you?
We’ve imposed this insane ideology on our children, too

A deathbed is too late to reach life’s ultimate conclusion
Now is the time to face society’s deranged illusion
Our worth is in occultation by our basic human pride

In the end
Are any of these things genuinely worth sacrificing what’s inside?

<strong>Rosa Hernandez</strong>
Rosa Hernandez

I am an aspiring author/ poet who enjoys writing as my most treasured form of creating Art. I also enjoy astronomy, Astrophotography, and painting. I love creating! I focus on writing about higher consciousness, the intricate web of the human condition and heart matters.

Writing has always been a healing experience for me; an alchemical way of projecting my soul’s deepest thoughts onto other kindred minds and hearts. I was awarded the Editor’s choice award for a poem from the International library of poet in 2008.

You can read snippets of my poetry on Instagram @a_musesvault 

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My Lover’s Eyes

My Lover’s Eyes by Jyothsna Manchikalapudi

I miss you in a lot of places, even on days when it’s hard to imagine happiness.
On these days, I think of the nights we built our own space of fullness.
Drunk in the night, you stuttered to find the right words,
But I don’t need words, I can see it in your eyes.
Your sad, soulful and earnest eyes.
Say, why do you always look at me like you have dreams to share and skies to fly?

<strong>Jyothsna Manchikalapudi</strong>
Jyothsna Manchikalapudi

I am Jyothsna, an Indian dentist who loves love, words and people. I’m drawn to everything in the universe that is small but has a profound effect in our lives.

My poetry is for anyone that loves poems and a little more of it, hence the name: @poemsandalittlemore 

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Broken Wings

Broken Wings

Broken Wings by Sinead McGuigan

At the break of day
skies fill with orange hues
Green trees stand tall and still
cradling birds with broken wings
chirping in their protective hold

As the sun rises with burning light
creating a gallery of wonder in our eyes
We breathe in our solemn truth
wispy clouds stop to adorn

The fragility of life imprisoned by
conscious thought
Awakens
Gazing at the aurora
naked eyes of the soul
we breathe in our new existence
lifting the veil on humanity’s strife

Look beyond the horizon
in endless wonder
Birds soar
flying as angels
to a new beginning
a new life
filled with love
and compassion
under a crimson sky

<strong>Sinead McGuigan</strong>
Sinead McGuigan

Sinead is an Irish poet living in Co Meath and has been published in several anthologies. Sinead, a University College Dublin graduate, returned to writing poetry in the last two years.

Writing is her greatest passion. Sinead plans to release her solo book in the near future.

Her Instagram account name is @sineadmcgpoetry.

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The Inevitable End

The Inevitable End by M.N. Rose

Your kisses tasted of apologies and a final goodbye.
Yet looking in your milky way eyes, I saw supernovas of despair and sorrow.
One explosion after the next until, like a monsoon, tears flooded from their home. Yet I couldn’t bare it.. I couldn’t look at you anymore. It hurt to breathe, each breath worse than the last… fire in my chest as my soul screamed for mercy.
And as silence fell between us, we both could hear my tender heart shatter. shards spraying across a love. A love that was never meant to last…. but in the end it turns out we were stupid enough to try, anyway.

Blind Trust by M.N. Rose

I ebb and flow between your words
and my own haunted thoughts.
This reality and my own.
Your promises and my fears.
Begging you not to destroy my scarred and bleeding heart,
that I hold in my trembling hands.

<strong>M.N. Rose</strong>
M.N. Rose

I am just a midwestern girl, born and raised in the beautiful state of Michigan. I have been writing poetry since I was 10 years old and I haven’t stopped ever since. I was just recently given a push to share my work with the world and I thought, “why not..”
 
I hope that what I write touches people or could possibly help heal someone through pain I’ve gone through. It would make it all worth it to me.

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A Walk of Courage

A Walk of Courage by Sarah V. Rain

Cold and cautious,
remembering the days of misery and contempt,
hollow words and piercing gazes,
pinning me to the ground,
Not able to move,
withering like a wet cat
Aware of sneering faces,
And feeling berated.

Holding on to the precious self-respect
And gaining the strength
To take steps,
to move forward.
Head held high,
Spine straight,
looking them dead in the eyes.
A slow smile forming on my face,
A sudden rush of self-confidence coursing through my veins,
I’ve won this battle and
Ready for next.

They may look me upon
As weak and breakable,
But the spirit of mine is unbreakable,
Gone through fire and molded with iron
took years of sweat and blood, which made my core stronger.
The faces now confused,
hushed voices getting louder,
I walk away without glancing backwards,
Not any more bothered.

<strong>Sarah V. Rain</strong>
Sarah V. Rain

Words written grammatically makes sense, and when arranged beautifully, invokes the right emotions. That is what Sarah does best. She is a 21-year-old aspiring writer and poet from India.

Sarah writes about love and life through her experiences blended with some puns, which most of us can relate to, on a personal level, and if you don’t understand some, you might need another reading. Because that’s what she’s best at.

She can hide subtle details behind those lines, which, if missed, would render you confused. Well, what’s the fun if it was so simple and direct, right? So if you are into some word porn stuff, definitely check out her work! When she’s not writing she loves to read and really try hard at cooking.

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Explosive Independence

Explosive Independence

Explosive Independence by Kiana Balacich

Please don’t label me
“loud” because I share ideas.
I am a thinker.

Please don’t label me
“bossy” because I can lead.
I am a teacher.

Please don’t label me
before you get to know me.
It doesn’t make sense.

Once, there was a time
when I cared what haters thought.
Their words cut me deep.

Today I declare
explosive independence
from all they’ve ever said.

I won’t hide, shrink, or
change myself for their labels.
I’ll keep sparkling.

Harmony After the Discord by Kiana Balacich

When I need good vibes,
I hold onto the music
I hear in my heart.

Music gives me hope
that there will be harmony
after the discord.

I find clarity
when I organize my thoughts
across the six strings.

The steady drumbeat
reminds my heart how to beat
again and again.

Music restores my hope—
after heartbreak, there will be
better days ahead.

<strong>Kiana Balacich</strong>
Kiana Balacich

Kiana Balacich is a writer from New York City. She writes poetry and short stories sprinkled with magical realism.

When she’s not writing, she’s playing guitar and trying to live life to the fullest.

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What Shall Become of Us?

What Shall Become of Us? by Katja Kremzer

What shall become of us,
when the rain stops and your reflection in the water disappears?

When all the words spoken linger in the air only to be taken by the envious wind in the first glimmers of sunlight?

When all I know is just a fading memory as your hands never reach mine again.

One Day You Were Just Gone by Katja Kremzer

And I sent paper cranes after you
but they never reached you.
Got entangled in the noise
and the rain soaked their paper wings.
So they fell back into my lap,
where they unfolded into dormant memories
to silently wait for your return.

<strong>Katja Kremzer</strong>
Katja Kremzer

Katja Kremzer is an aspiring writer who scribbles short stories and poems in her notebooks.

If it were up to her, her day would start with a cup of coffee, a good book placed next to it and piano music gently playing from an old record player. She would lie in the grass, cherry blossoms dancing in the wind, while the sound of the typewriter tuned out the noise of the trains passing by.

But in reality, it begins with an alarm clock telling her to go to work.

Her motto: “If I can’t capture the moment with a camera, I will paint it. If I cannot do that, I will describe it with poetic allegories.”

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