Poetry By Chuck



The moon hangs in the sky with a bright image on my eyes. I can almost see the man there. His profile seems to stare away from me. I wonder what he is looking at. I'm sitting on the edge of the jetty watching the silver tipped ocean waves. The ocean is quiet tonight. The surf is moving along with ages old certainty towards the sand. There is a warm wind, almost calm, and the stars are shinning like gems in the sky. A small drop of ocean spray touches my cheek. I'm thinking of my world and how it inspires me to create poems that are sometimes, I'm afraid, a bit too emotional. When I sit like this, pants rolled up and bare feet swinging over the edge of the rocks, I wonder at the beauty of nature. How did she get this way? Large puffy pure white clouds in random procession drift almost without moving on my roof. The moon shines into and sometimes through them and creates a vision hard to imagine. There is no one around. The night is empty except for beauty. I do love times like this.

I wonder at how many creatures wonderful and strange are lurking just below the silver tipped waves. Some deadly, some beautiful, some ......well...just plain weird! (laugh). This is the time of night for reflections. Reflections of my life and perhaps even judgements on my accomplishments and my failures. I wish I could share with everyone the memories of strange places I've been. Places like the Polar Ice Cap, the jungles of Southeast Asia and South America. Even the deserts spread around the globe. How do you share, if no one is there? Maybe in a bit of prose. You see, I wish for you to walk with me. Kinda a walkabout into the mind of a traveler, a solitary figure, surrounded by nature who presides at my timid entry into her wild domains.

Let us start on the ice....

So cold, so cold it seems that your lungs will freeze as you draw a breath. A vast world of white surrounds you. The wind is blowing at 45 mph and the wind chill takes you below 110 degrees. Flesh exposed will freeze in less then a minute. Even without the wind, the temp outside is -65. Perhaps the most frightening thing here is not the wind or the cold, which is frightening enough, but the sound. A horrible ripping, booming, tearing of your ear drums as the ice parts and spreads into giant chasms near you. How could you be so stupid to place yourself in this vast white coffin. Even the thought of sleeping in the ice house you've constructed brings forth from inside a fear like you've never felt before. your feeble shelter is a kind of fighter trench with cut blocks for a roof. The wind howls outside this frozen hell hole of a home. Inside its exactly like a freezer in a reefer. The cold seeps into your bones like a sneaky enemy in the night. You can't raise the temperature as it would melt the ice and the water would drip onto your clothes. Certain death in this land of cold. So, you keep the cold as your only friend and listen to the howling death outside. The night passes, as does another, and still the wind blows and blows and blows. After five nights, you would think you would be braver after all you've survived so far. But no, your still frightened at each booming crack of ice as it heaves into the air and splits in continent wide rifts all around you. Fear and cold are your constant companion...almost your friends. Strange huh! But, true. As long as your cold and scared your alive. Right now that is almost all you can think of. The nearest living human is over a hundred miles away and certainly not able to rescue you. And so you live each hour of each day cold and afraid...and determined.

Four days later, your surrounded by plants, insects, snakes, reptiles, monkey's, and smell. Deep in the jungles of Panama. You cut balsa wood trees and construct a raft to carry you along the muddy river, deeper into the jungle. Humidity here is so thick it coats even the inside of your camera and rusts it permanently shut rendering it worthless. Memories will be your only reflections in later times of remembrance. There is no wind here. No cold, in the day, but at night it sometimes seems so cold and damp that you wish you were back in that frozen hell of ice. This cold is a wet, damp, seeping type of soggy mess that no amount of sunlight seems to dry out. But, the insects here... Oh Man! They are huge things of twisted frames that seem to be saying; "Danger! Don't touch me! I'm NOT your friend!" I eat a few. Disgusting but all I have. I will eat more. Perhaps that beetle there. It sure is big.

When night falls here it does it like the drop of a rock from a mountain ledge. Sudden, almost with a crashing noise as it goes from full day to pitch black. I've made a shelter of small limbs tied together and suspended between trees. A place to get off the infested ground. But then, everything here is infested. If you look at the base of every leaf, its filled with squirming life of some kind. Crawling, creeping, slithering life in a mass of stomachs each trying to survive and eat the other. Its not survival of the fittest, it's survival of the biggest. How do they sleep? How can they when danger moves next to them at all hours? That is my dilemma too. Surviving this first night, one of many more in this living biting, stinging mass of creatures. I am covered in mosquito bites. They have a proboscis that is almost a quarter inch long and when they land on your clothing, thousands do, that probe squirms its way between the fibers of your layered clothing and into your flesh. It then begins to suck the very blood from your heart. Greedy and seemingly insatiable these myriads of bugs are intolerable to me. I itch! Like I've never felt anything before, this itch extends from hundreds of bites all over my body. Bug juice here is worthless. Better then nothing, but worth only a bit of piece of mind. The insects seem to ignore it in their haste to suck you dry. God! I itch.

But, I have to survive. This first night passes in a exhausted collapsed sleep of surrender to humanity. I cannot stay awake despite the constant attacks everywhere. Then, a HOWL of noise. The most horrendous barrage of nightmare noise I've ever heard. It seems to come from everywhere. I wake but stay almost frozen in fright as I contemplate the monster which is making this howling. Then it turns into grunting, heavy breathing, and I knew it was close. Very close. My mind is racing like a bullet to try to understand what kind of danger I was in. What the heck is it? Can I move without it seeing me? Can it see me? I can't see a thing. I feel its presence. Within mere inches of me. Right next to me. I can even smell it. Musk, filth, damp kind of smell. I react. Swinging from my improvised perch to the ground and turning around to face this horror in the night. It however wanted nothing to do with me and vanished with chittering noises into the pitch black dark. Then howling started above me. Surrounding my sky with noise. There must be dozens of these things up there. I realized it was a monkey. That thought did much to calm me. I climbed back into my abode and listened as the pack departed in the night.

Eight days later I was adrift at sea in a one man life-raft.

Alone, my horizon was empty and the sun was baking me with intensity. I tried to cover every inch of myself to prevent the worse sunburn imaginable. God! It was hot. The ocean moved in small but large heaves of breathing as it ignored this tiny speck adrift on its back. My world was bright, floating, misery as I examined the contents of my home. This barely large enough rubber dingy was my home for the next 3 days. I would live, eat, sleep, and gradually understand the survival environment of the sea. First let me say, its boring to be adrift on the open ocean. Boring in a way that you've never experienced before. The human mind so used to inspiration in almost everything it see's, it is quickly adrift in boredom when your whole world is reduced to yellow rubber and a what is in your pockets. I found that sleep was my friend. I could sleep cat naps over and over and pass my time away. But, if your hand sticks out of the raft its baked within minutes and the idea that you might wake at night and spend the dark hours unable to return to sleep is not a good thought to have. So, cat naps are out of the question. Instead I explore my navel. Did you know that navels gather lint like a dust trap on a dryer. They make a small ball of it and carry it around everywhere you go. I discovered this quite accidentally as I was scratching all my bug bites. I'm so happy to leave the jungle behind, for now.   I endure the isolation and boredom of lonely horizons with a mental toughness.    I am determined to withstand all that they make me do and graduate from this USAF Instructor course in Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (a S.E.R.E. instructor).   I don't care how much they toss at me I will survive.   And when that helo gathers me from this barren watery desert, I will be pulled temporarily into the bowels of a throbbing beast and carried to their next challenge.....

Now the heat of the desert eats into my soul and dries out the tears the bright sun winces from my eyes. The day progresses in this arid waste where volcanos left footprints of lava lakes. As the night approaches I check my gear and remember to put in the battery in the night vision gear. Then atop Black Mountain in Northern Nevada the sun leaves behind only memories as the night possesses me. So dark I cannot see not even my fingers which touch my nose. This is the darkest night of all and only faint stars twinkle and shine. Then I done my mask and turn it on and the sky turns from black to ......

Have you ever heard Carl Sagan say; "billions and billions of stars"? If you have not,google him and listen because he was right. When we look at the night sky we can see hundreds of holes where nothing shines between the stars. But, with night vision goggles we truly see for the first time the truth... there are NO HOLES IN THE SKY! There are NO empty spaces. The sky is filled with billions and billions of twinkling lights horizon to horizon they fill the night. Imagine a bowl punched through with thousands of holes then place that bowl over your face and look at the sunlight coming through ..... that is not enough to even begin to understand how many stars there are up there.... truly one of my most beautiful sights.

Then just scant days later, I'm in a scuba suit pouring hot water down the neck of it just prior to entering the blistering cold of the Puget Sound off Washington's bleak coast. Here, I'm to get dive certified in a 100' dive at night. The frigid waters are black like the blackness of a coffin and the cold has my teeth chattering as I pour the water inside the suit. Then with the temporary warmth of the water layer between my suit and skin I walk carrying my flippers into the gnawing coldness of the sea. Its February 3rd and 2 AM, and I'm just learning how cold the ocean can get. The full moon lights up the mountains and only shows the black surface of the sea. God! This water is cold. Even in a wetsuit the water racks my bones with chilling pre-hypothermia. This will be a long hour dive one of many over the next few days. I don my flippers and swim out 100 yards then dive straight down next to the rotting pilings of the old pier. Its black and I can barely see the bottom and I swim looking towards the ocean floor checking my gauge on the way. Then the bottom comes into vague view, and for the first time I glance around....

...its so bright here! How? I then realize that the water in this frigid time of year carries no plankton nothing to obscure my vision and there...! There is the full moon shining above. I can even see the sharp vision of Mt Rainier covered in brightly lit snow from 100' below, the surface. Marvelous sights and my environment is filled with aqua water fish swimming by .... Oh My! Look at that! Now I know where Walt Disney got his idea for Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell flies with fairy dust trailing her every move... shining tiny bits of light twinkling as she passes by and here in this ocean depth is the truth. Tinkerbell is but a reflection of a divers wonderful dream. Every thing which moves here is followed by Tinkerbells trail. I wave my hand in the water and Tinkerbells trail follows it. A crab loses its grip on the piers piling and falls into the deep followed by her trail of shining tears.

And so we have now returned to my perch over the oceans edge. Memories fill my minutes with reflections of emotions and I wish I could return to once again see the beauty of the Polar Ice Cap and to scratch the itch in Panama. Even to be adrift and alone with myself on the open sea would be a treasure to me. So many memories. We all have them. Each unique in their complexity. And when we die, we take them with us unless we write our memories into history.....


Author notes

After graduation and during my 18 years as a SERE Instructor.

I'm adrift on a fallen star and wonder where I am. My name is Chuck Johnson. I'm alone.



  • lostangel07 silver member
    March 26
    Detail is amazing. A beautiful beautiful piece. One of the few I've seen in a more story like form, but interesting in itself. Thankyou

  • meandmypen
    March 25



  • O.o
    March 23
    This is such a beautiful piece of writing. Your description is so detailed and intricate it puts a picture in my mind When you were talking about bug bites I started itching all over! Man! I'm still itching! You are an amazing writer, this piece of writing should be published! It explains the journey you made to perfectly. I am, however, struggling to see how it links back to your last piece of work. It sounds more like a description of our world, not the world you created in part 1. Its no suprising , because it must have been difficult trying to create a piece of fiction from a world with nothing! I can see where this idea came from. Well done Applause for writing style alone!