The Sailor’s Dilemma

A poetic puzzle I wrote. The goal is for you to reflect on what it means. Perhaps the follow exchange will give you a little clue. Or, perhaps, it won’t, and it is just a red herring. But what is a red herring, really? If a false clue helps you narrow your judgment, then isn’t it still a clue?

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.

“Which road do I take?” she asked.

“Where do you want to go?” was his response.

“I don’t know,” Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

~Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


as the sea swallowed the sun

and the waves lapped softly

in pure contradistinction

to the earlier torrential storm

a first mate turned to his captain

their majestic ship sailing along

and asked but a single question

what say you, my dearest friend and leader,

are you able to see the shackles?


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