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Poems By George Palo
Aboard the RV Polar Duke, Antarctica
October, 1995

Runabouts and yachts of ice cruise the strait,
Daily they make the trip,
careful observers of the army of pack ice, the
infantry of the south.
Trenches are the ice edge, lying quietly in waiting
for the onslaught of
the visitor,
Those from the north that do not belong.
No words of the warrior crying out of our approach,
Just silence, white silence, square miles of
We try, we go forth, into the thickness of nature's
cold soul.
"Halt," it says; we stop as we watch it close
around us.
We retreat, we surrender
for a day.

It's morning on the Gerlache Strait,
The clouds and early rising sun write poetry on wall
of white.
Ice filled valleys in shadows lead upward,
Glaciers leading my mind to places I cannot go.
The ship's deep rumblings from below invade my
I travel across water where mystical Celtic melodies
lead me to
I climb skyward, listening to the crunch of show
beneath my boots,
My beating heart reminding me of my existence.
I am aware of not what should be, but of what is,
Life's priorities sorted out by the cold and the
brutal desolation and
beauty of the mountains.
I hear steps,
Someone's behind me on the stern of the ship.
Morning has broken on the Gerlache Strait.

Ships at war, silently fighting the onslaught of
sail proudly, defiantly, on the ocean of the south.
Aging gracefully, becoming sculptures of the mind,
they quietly wait for nature's weapons of
These ships at war,
launched upon the waters by the graveyards of cold
rivers of epochs
come of age,
melting to take their place among the eternal cycles
of the universe.

I hear voices calling me to the ice,
to be part of the quietness of the universe.
I want to be among the cliffs and the cracks of
to stand in the world of rock and snow,
To be alone with my soul,
spiritual melodies providing warmth for my inner
The desolation of the mind is here, on the unbroken
whiteness of the
I am a mere spot of color on the vastness of
mountain white.
I feel alive.
God is here.

We have arrived,
outside of the gates of the south continent we
brazenly dodging the warriors of the church who
stand proud,
their white armor gleaming in the sun, warning us of
what is to come.
We persist, relentlessly southward, forging a path
through the moat of
The agony of the power below curses loudly as the
ship pushes aside the
ice pack,
resistance giving away.

We have entered Gods' cathedral.
Alters of ice, carved sentinels of the past,
float gracefully before the congregation of the
mirrored on natures' shelf.

Priests of stone, a chorus of silence, and a parish
of Antarctic life,
evidence of this creation of desolate beauty and
serve communion with acolytes of cold and snow.
Waiting for confessions, we ask for forgiveness,
while the setting sun paints a service we bear
witness to.
We have entered a cathedral of God.

There is a fire on the horizon
as the sky is lit to the heavens with the orange,
pin, and red of the
flames' heat.
Clouds are outlined with shapes reminding me of a
firestorm on the sea
from the depths of hell.
I am awed by the power of the color of the fire at
It is burning out,
the glow of the heat begins to fade.
God has set the sun again.

"You have returned to me" sings the sea,
as she boils along the dark red hull.
I am captured again by the sound of the voice
that rolls beneath me.
The power of the swell reminds me to be humble
as we rise and fall to the rhythm of her erotic
I am hypnotized into servitude.
Her sensuous melody enters my soul.
"Stay with me" she whispers,
Flaunting her gentle curves upon my mind.
She is the sea of my past,
calling my name for centuries.
I respond.
She has her way with me.
It is in my blood.
My spirit recognizes the blue expanse before me,
I have been here before.
I am home.

I dream of a land where the sun shines all day,
and the nights last that long too.
Where the mountains are high, all covered with snow,
and sit by a sea colored blue.

It's a land of the snow and the ice and the cold,
and a place where the rivers are white.
They fill up the valleys cut deep into rock,
and are one hundred thousand years old.

These rivers, or glaciers we call them today,
move slowly as they age gracefully,
And when they arrive at the edge of the sea,
become icebergs, as they break away.

They scatter about, become shapes of all kinds,
melt slowly a little each day.
These flowers, and serpents, and small figurines,
are sculptures inside of my mind.

Chariots with horses and dancers of blue,
are neighbors in fantasyland.
I saw a princess with her father the king,
and the queen and the prince were there too.

Their castle was large, the towers so high,
the courtyard looked made of blue glass.
I thought of my childhood, the memories so clear,
of fairy tales told in my past.

Big ships with flat tops and small boats sail by,
majestically proud in the wind.
And whales like the humpback, and minke, and sei,
swim slowly under clouds in the sky.

I anxiously wake in the morn of each day,
to see what was carved in the dark.
The suns' early rise. Cast light all about,
and the seals and the penguins play.

The treasures of ice, carved so delicately nice,
shine brightly and sparkle with joy.
The shapes are all different, they're fragile, like crystal,
I think they are Gods' little toys.

But day after day, as they drift to and fro,
on the water between mountains so high,
They disappear slowly, melt into the sea,
as I say a silent good-bye.

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