Demons On My Boat

There are demons

on my boat.


You’ll wake them and then I

won’t be able to look away from them.

It is an all too simple

contract; our deals

sealed in tears and thickened, old blood;

silences coating emotions,

covering sounds and words, and smiles and secret screams.


You’ll wake them if you come near me.


There are demons

on my boat.

I steer my lonely ship onwards,

beneath the hesitant moon, and restless stars.

Bright, dark, bright, dark.

It’s still, a smooth mirror reflecting an endless sky;

I don’t disturb the empty ocean, unsettling in all its quiet rage.

Its hidden heart.

I am willed to follow my aimless line, as far as I can travel

on the

numbing breeze.


There are demons

on my boat.

I promised them I’d behave.

I am not allowed to wander, not allowed to explore without

a rambling mind;

I am not to follow the course of other ships I see,

or meet the deserted spits of land I’ve let float by,

or travel with company that stills me,

or make my own speed that goes against the tide.

They scrawled words along the wooden boards,

scored crude nail marks one evening while I slept,

hovered over and drooled on me with teeth I could feel

the pricks and beads of blood.

They scrawled words that told me they would leave me be,

if I left them be.


There are demons

on my boat.

And now I see a ship, with bright red sails,

drift to land not too far away;

a flaming banner across the surface of my shadowed sea.

I move my wheel, aimed at land-


Onslaught of teeth and scales and spidery limbs,

pointed daggers and sabres of nail,

breathing hot spit and foul stench,

musty rot and all

rushed at me.

Blackened ooze of shapes and

distorted beasts;

I can’t take in any air that isn’t

toxic, ash making my eyes water.

Too gruesome to stare at them, intensely black,

yellow eyes and a multitude of ravenous, slick tongues.

I right the wheel,

and they creep back,

to rest in the shallows of my boat,

biting nails and shedding skin,

keeping guard on me.


Restless flashes in the shadows hunted by the sun,

and drawn out under the moon.



There are demons

on my boat.

And it has been like this

for lengthy years.

Hopelessly blind and painfully aware,

at once,

of frozen breaths down my neck,

and bubbling fear inside,

of feelings.

Anything that leave me open to onslaught.

Anything that opens windows and lets their darkness

trail in,

tumble around and entangle innards,

I’m left speechless and sore inside,

nursing wounds I suppress.


There are demons

on my boat.

And the scary thing.

Is that I’ve made peace with them, under their scrutiny.

Yet I see birds above and blue trembles beneath me,

green jungles to the left and empty sands to the right.

And I refuse to hide and cower in peace.


I once again move my hands and face the

glimmer of land I see-

and they come rising from their graves of slumber.


There are demons

on my boat.

But they aren’t that terrifying under the sunlight.

They hurl abuse in my face,

spitting and writhing and screeching;

But their scales are actually just drifting smoke,

their nails just scraps of tattered fabric,

eyes just glinting stones and teeth just blunted stumps.

They scream and bleed before me,

because I’m focused on the distance behind them.

After hours, they retire,

like burnt out candles, the smoke dissipates.


There aren’t any demons

on my boat.


*Artwork unknown- Pinterest*

This piece is about the analogy of demons on a boat given in ACT behavioural therapy. I decided to try and accommodate my therapy by creating a deeper version to say the same thing- about mindfulness and emotional regulation and the importance of feeling your feelings, instead of living by suppressing them.


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