Ray Jackson became a poet when he was hopping freight trains around the country in the early 2000s. Wherever he is and whatever he does, Ray writes as a way to speak about the essence of his experiences, and what he perceives is a collective experience, “through the language of dream.”
Now a HIOBS sailing instructor, Ray is committed to documenting his impressions of being in the field through writing poetry.
“Poetry has a way of allowing for interpretation that makes it a useful framework for others to more deeply appreciate their own experience while finding common ground with broader humanity. The first poem [“looking out from wheeler bay”] is written with all those instructors, Course Directors, and logisticians who have paved the way ahead of me in mind. They might remember what it was like for them their first time going out; the jitters, the stress, the wonder. I couldn’t do what I’m doing if they hadn’t done it first, and I’m proud to enter into this tradition, in my own quirky way.”
This summer, Ray wrote a poem every day on one of his courses—and he was kind enough to share a few of his favorites with us!
looking out from wheeler bay i've long believed in the strength of honest vulnerability what invites others in what makes us a community watching other boats struggle against the wave and wind lying awake in the cabin, counting how long it takes between bright branchings of light in the sky and long rolls of thunder; a warning seeing them in my mind's eye taking their lightning position while dark gathers round them and this, too shall be my portion i am not confident i am not strident i set sail utterly dependent on a spiderweb of support that has been here long before me which exists in ways i cannot see and i must step dynamically past my own limitations upon the dark blue sea there was once a man who supposedly walked the waves i am not he; i shall depend on my boat and my friends until we meet the shore again 09AUG23 Perry Creek, Vinalhaven, ME between the blue of water and the blue of sky there are moments when the border either shifts or blends or ceases to exist and i'm not sure which, but today when we left the Muscle Ridge to cross Penobscot Bay, it either went under or we crossed over or it simply somehow went away timing ceased to be relevant the sky broke its depressing dark obstinance and the sun played easy upon green depths a boatload of new strangers became a funny floating village sharing their abundance, lending strength and the boundaries i'd been led to believe existing between them and me did not show up on our charts nor could we find proof of any such ornery and useless divisions when we peered out at the boundless sea 19AUG23 Long Cove, Tenant's Harbor, ME i am grateful that i reminded myself last night when we met; twenty-six feet crammed into the cockpit to not know, to abstain from judgement or preconceived notions about how this journey would go an osprey cries and i remember that we can never know, but still it happens: the fledglings have to leave the nest like a chilly dip release your grip from the shroud, before you jump from the boat so you can go all the way in we enter these waters and are made one we do it together when it has to be done out in the swell wing on wing our sails trimmed wide responding to the moment and the wind i did't come here knowing; i showed up to find out what was the truth we were holding inside