Rule-Breaking, Round 4: Entropy (although this one did legitimately get published in Plains Paradox, so I don’t know for sure that I get to claim I broke any rules this time)


Phantom ship on a pitching sea.

Waves that pop and leap with glee.

Waves that rise upon the sea,

Phantom ship, sing to me.

See the life that is not there.

Not a tail, not a fin, not a hair.

Not a fossil from the deep of a watery lair;

Not a wing in the air.

Ship of fools on a boiling bed.

The keel, the rim, the neck, the head;

The flying cap of blood red,

The silent echoes of what never was said.

Windstill breathes a mighty wave

But sends none down to their watery grave.

They toss the hull, and clack and scave

Broken shards of rock, and silt and sand. The remnants from the hollow of a cave.

Phantom ship, riding Neptune’s trident,

Sails billow from Aeolus’ air vent.

He carries a message Hermes sent,

Never knowing for whom it was meant.

And Aegir’s halls on the ocean floor

Echo with silence. Not a god, not a soul, not a knock upon the door.

Seaweed, and kelp, and barnacle spores

Long crumbled to dust, and washed upon the shore.

Sea nymphs, and venti, and the cry of a gull

Once poured into the ocean, full

To the brim. And rose to the rim of the hull

And shook and rattled the mariners to their spine, to their knees, to their skull.

The ancient mariner, trapped out of time,

Sat on his rowing bench, heaving a sigh.

And watching the Albatross fly,

Washed in the rhyme that never will cry.

Sharded fragments of sight and of sound,

Lost in the quagmire; pitched all around

The seashell shattered and scattered beach ground.

They no longer matter. They’ll never be found.

Phantom ship of fools.

Without life, without death, without disorder, without rules.

No following of whales, or porpoises in schools.

Phantom ship, did I play the fool?

The last ship of the sea, the last ghost of the moor,

The last bottle of rum that rolled onto the floor.

The last gull, the last tern, the last owl and condor,

The last grain of sand on the shore.

The last battle call,

The last horn, the last pipe, the last lute; the last dance at a ball,

The last written word, the last symbol

Of a life long ago run into a brick wall.

We toasted the days to come.

We toasted the days set under the sun.

We toasted the days that still were young

And the days of which there will be none.

Once upon a time, a long time ago,

The earth was a fiery hot, burning red glow;

The earth was a luscious green, vibrant lifeforce flow;

The earth was an ashpit, buried in coal;

The earth was green and vibrant again,

The earth was awash in a rocky terrain,

The earth was a wasteland, buried in sand,

The earth is an entropic, grassless sea plain.

Ship of fools on a white washed foam,

Cursed forever to wander and roam.

Trapped on a dead sea, all alone

From Siberia, to Greenwich, to Panama, to Tijuana, to Nome.

The peak of a pyramid rose out of the gulf

Reading, ‘All Hail! For I am Ozymandias!

King of the deserts, the seas, and the bluffs,

And my name shall reign, till the earth is lain ruff!’

But nobody sings his praises.

Ozymandias existed as one of many phases

Of the grand scheme of history, which raises

The lowliest, topples the mightiest, and views all as merely a passing craze.

Entropy! the slow and gradual decay of things;

Of termites, and squirrels, and tigers, and kings.

Who topples gods and empires, ground to sand in the springs,

Leaving concentric rings.

Rings in the sand, blown away in the breeze

And dragged down under on the tide of the seas.

All life and death sucked out of these,

Like a giant’s death rattle and wheeze.

Phantom ship; earth’s last living soul

In solitude. Will this take it’s toll?

This solitude, which wears a hole

In our final entity, with a force no entropy can engulf.

When existence ends, all that will remain

Is a final ghost ship, drifting on a sea plain.

Once salt water eats at the rocky terrain,

And existence is swallowed to the pit of the Spanish Main.

A million years ago the last living creature cried out,

And fought and struggled, thrashing, and glancing all about

For a savior and a rescue. But nobody heard him shout,

Being pulled to the heart of a waterspout.

And out of the deep rose a solitary bubble.

This is life and this is death; of existence, this is every last stubble.

Never again a smidgeon of trouble,

Till we see the world decay and crumble.

This is the onset of entropy.

This is what it would look like to me.

When the world and the universe ceases to be,

All that will remain is a ship on the sea.


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I was grown from mushroom spores.

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