Thomas P. “Tom” Pardue

Tom is a native Texan who served in the US Army as an Enlisted Man and an Officer. Of the year he served in Vietnam, his first 6 months were with the 588th Combat Engineers followed by 6 months with the 69th Construction Engineers in the Mekong Delta…


Proudly sailed I, this sea of life
Relying on Hope, as my guiding Star
Heaving in grandeur; pitched in strife
As Gales beset the mainsail spar.

I’ve tacked every Bay; I’ve charted each Cay
From the Caribbean’s deep blue Sea
To the Aegean, the Black and the North,
The Ionian… the Zuider Zee.

No matter what gloom besieged my plight,
Or what trouble roiled the sea,
Could always head home deep in the night,
The Star of Hope… beckoning me.

Oh… the Sovereignty of sailing!
Its might!… Its power!… It sets me free!
Replaces the pall of life’s failing
With exhilarating epiphany.

In quieter moments, the memories came
Of my Love joining me at sea
Of sea breezes whispering her name
Serenading passion’s rhapsody

But all life is to be found fleeting
In time, even she had to go
The agony of her receding
Still anguishes my heart so

And now, it befalls my destiny
To alone, sail the Seven Seas;
A broken heart and weakened mast
Charts a perilous course for me.

To master this voyage and return intact,
I must turn my back to the gale;
Setting my keel to that star’s track,
I must perfectly set the sail.

But, should I choose another star,
Destiny foreshadows unsure;
Upon such shoals and treacherous bar,
Pile remnants of prey to such lure.

So, I’ll hoist my sail, eyes to the star,
Though my heart tis left behind;
The route is clear, but my vision I fear,
Obscured by a reef in my mind.

Then suddenly, in panic, I awaken
Finding darkness in every sky!
Nay a glimmer from the Hope I take in,
Only brewing storms fill my eye.

Rolled in its heave, tossed in its throw,
I prayed for a glimpse of that star;
Gone was She, my beacon oh Hope,
Her radiance, guiding no more.

Gone, the hope that guided my life!
Gone, the dreams with beautiful flair!
And in their place! Fixed at my side…
Anguish, Pity, Sorrow, Despair!

Now, deprived of that life so free
Though I mastered waters of every kind;
Now, twixt me and the joy of the sea,
Lay the reef implanted by my mind!

So, I lie here, full of longing,
Surveying a beckoning sea,
Lusting to launch on seas foaming
But my future’s entombed by me.

How did I arrive at this impasse?
When did the reef start to grow?
Where’s the solace in its beauty?
Why must it shackle me so?

When did this reef first appear?
Was it the day, she chose to go?
I remember her smile… and that last tear
And the way I clutched her so!

A love so rich, I’ll not see again;
Such joy is gone, passed as it must
Along with soft touches caressing skin
Ahead, nothing more .but gray days and dusk.

I spend my days alone… adrift,
My keel grinding sand and shell,
Fearing I’ll be marooned forever,
Bound on this island in hell.

The sails have all been lowered;
Lapping waves interrupt the lull;
A tear slowly wells and spills over
For a once mighty ship now rotting at its hull.

Inspired by the poem, “Safe Harbor
©Copyright May 10, 2004 by Thurman P. Woodfork

Author’s Note: Dedicated to Thurman P. Woodfork: a patriot, a poet, but most of all a friend.

I, Thomas Phillip Pardue, have written and am submitting my poem: “Final Voyage”. I read a beautiful startling poem “Safe Harbor” by Woody Woodfork. It was complete and needed no gilding by the likes of me. But I wanted to experiment with taking it on a new turn. Woody, ever the good sport, gave me permission to do my fools errand. I finished it on July 30, 2004 and it appears above.