Cape Horn

They lifted anchor, spread the sails,
__Quit shores where they were born,
Bound for spice isles from doubtful tales
__By way of far Cape Horn—

Rough seamen, fortune-bound, to trade
__In gold and peppercorn
And woo a grass-clad island maid—
__But first to round Cape Horn.

They crossed the far equator, seared
__In emerald tropics, borne
On friendly breezes till they neared
__The South Seas’ gate: Cape Horn.

To brave it was to challenge fate,
__Taste death, perhaps, and mourn;
To pass it was to celebrate
__Surviving feared Cape Horn.

It rose above the frigid waves,
__Stark, jagged, and forlorn,
The crag, foremost of sailors’ graves,
__The end of lands—Cape Horn.

There, frigid crests soared, roiled, and crashed
__In frothing chaos, torn
By howling, sleety gales that blast
__Unceasing round Cape Horn.

They buffeted the ship about
__Until its masts were shorn,
Its hull split and its crew spilled out,
__More blood to slake Cape Horn.

Unmoved, the crag’s bleak face stared down
__Upon the doomed with scorn.
Freezing, they gasped, about to drown,
__And glimpsed their last: Cape Horn.

The crag could only spurn their wails.
__So far and lonely, worn
So long by hostile seas and gales,
__And bleakly dubbed “Cape Horn,”

Fixed in eternal storm and cold,
__Night with no hope for morn,
It envies those whose fates unfold
__Before it, cursed Cape Horn.




Benton County, Indiana

The thunder departs. Its withdrawing boom
__Calls to a beam of angling light
That strikes the titan towers through the gloom
__And sets them glowing radiant white.

Standing in neatly regimented rows,
__Spinning, spinning, spinning trine blades,
Slowly, slowly, slowly, with sweeping blows
__They slice the spritzing storm-cascades.

What distant, nameless, careless forces thrust
__Such alien forms against the grain
Of vast, green prairies, wide horizons touched
__By wider skies no hand could rein?

Silently watching, brooding, down they stare,
__Winding their monotonous rounds
Against the very nature they would spare,
__Spiting it while it yet surrounds,

Siphoning it to power far-off hives
__Of glass and concrete stuffed with those
Who scorn this hinterland beyond their lives
__As merely space where lucre blows.

Away! Let me follow the fleeing storm
__Far from their boundless, soulless gaze,
The crushing midst of their unnatural swarm,
__The land marred by their weird arrays.



Speak, Thunder!

Speak, Thunder! Let your booming voice resound
Out from the darkness of an angry sky
Across a land whose wealth of follies cry
For vengeance, whose unblushing sins abound.

Speak, Thunder! Let your intonations drown
The discord of our aimless chattering,
Our clash of tongues and steel, our blustering,
Our vaunted idols and their cheap renown.

Speak, Thunder! Let the fury of your rage
Lay low the soaring spires, the shining towers,
Level the walls that house the feckless powers,
And sweep away the clutter of the age.

Speak, Thunder! And the Earth, that seems so firm
Beneath our feet, down to its very core
Shall tremble, cowering before your roar,
A wretch, powerless but to whine and squirm.

Speak, Thunder! Thunder, speak the Heavens’ thoughts,
Unleash the blasts of righteous rage withheld,
The floods that cleanse the nations of all blots.

Speak, Thunder! Thunder, speak the words of doom,
The words by which the wills of men are quelled,
The words that purify, but must consume.



Adam Sedia (b. 1984) lives in his native Northwest Indiana, where he practices law as a civil and appellate litigator. His poems have appeared in Indiana Voice Journal and Tulip Tree Review. He has also had short stories and works of legal scholarship published in various journals. He also composes music, which may be heard on his YouTube channel.

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9 Responses

  1. Peter Hartley

    I was very fortunate in 2007 to be the only passenger from a complement of 269 on our return from Antarctica to alight at Cape Horn from an inflatable before all further landings were aborted because of a rising swell (exhortations to return I managed not to hear till I’d scrambled to the top of the little cliff above). The first poem is very evocative for me of that landing and paints a better picture in my mind than does a Turner seascape.

  2. Leo Zoutewelle

    Adam, these three poems were marvelous! I was especially impressed with Cape Horn. You have a wonderful way with poetry. Thanks!

  3. Sally Cook

    Dear Adam Sedia —

    It is obvious that you are thoughtful, intelligent, well read, and, as they say, multi-talented.

    There are many reasons why your poems have value. First, and perhaps most important, is your mature and considered choice of subject.

    Second, you possess not only a respect and adherence to form in a way that does not make a poem submerge its soul; more than that, you own the knowledge of when to break from it

    To continue, your descriptive powers are well- used. Altogether, these are poems of mature consideration.
    You are a Poet. Many thanks for showing it !

  4. Joe Tessitore

    I haven’t been around all that long, but this is easily one of the best submissions I have ever read – one simply terrific poem after another!

    I just finished reading “Poems of the Sea”, an anthology of works by the masters.
    “Cape Horn” would be right at home among them.

  5. Sharon

    Oh how I like “Speak Thunder”. When the boom hits and the earth shivers I’m in awe the creator’s power.

  6. James A. Tweedie

    Adam, Cape Horn sounds like it was written as a song or shanty. Is there music for it? If not, There should be! It just begs to be sung! Wonderful. I hope life is turning some happy corners for you! All the best.

  7. David Watt

    Adam, each of these poems evidence the worth of formal poetry.

    I am always partial to a sea ballad. ‘Cape Horn’ is one of the best I have seen.

  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    “Cape Horn” is in traditional ballad meter, except that it uses an ABAB rhyme scheme instead of the more usual ABCB. The poem has a powerful sense of the sea and seafaring hazards, and for me is reminiscent of “The Wreck of the Hesperus.” Fine work indeed.

  9. Adam Sedia

    I am very thankful to you all for the comments. Reading them is both humbling and gratifying.


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