unique collaboration of art, poetry, and voice


by Jerry Browning    


The poems in Following Seas are for the most part in the order of writing during my enlistment in the US Navy.  I spent a year and a half training to be a radar technician in what was then a state of the art weapons system called Aegis.  I caught the USS Yorktown in the Black Sea on her maiden cruise and was in the Battle of the Gulf of Sidra before I'd barely spent ninety days onboard the ship.  I was lead technician and operator through two more Mediterranean cruises including our being rammed by a Russian Cruiser in the Black Sea in what some call the last confrontation of the Cold War.  The strangest feeling in my life was pulling into port from twenty-nine days at sea, a six month deployment, four and a half years on a ship, and a six year enlistment to finally  walking off that gang plank in a few quick seconds to a new life. A sailor's goodbye is to wish their shipmates, "fair winds and following seas"


..that beautiful, intoxicating ride of seducing a good woman

..a witty little look at science and philosophy...on what level(s) or dimension(s) does organized thought form?  does it exist without perception?  is it at all governed by our know laws of physics?

     Turning Seasons
..this captures the feelings of old-school lovers who didn't share their thoughts verbally...I'm glad times have changed

     Rollin’ Away
..about running away from pain and finding beauty and comfort where you least expect it

     Slap Your Monkey
..written in the Navy to blow off a little steam...we used to get off the ship, get pretty intoxicated, and sing this song on the way back to the ship

     Route 69
..an erotic poem comparing making love to driving on the highway

     Gentle Breeze
..based on the death of Socrates

     Broken Hearts and Heavy Seas
..about a sailor leaving a lover and heading back to the call of the sea

     Hoedown at the Robot Farm
..a fantasy about a inter-planetary county fair...I was in weapons control school where I was living and breathing electronics...obviously

     My Girl
..written in the middle of the night in boot camp.  One of my buddies came up with the melody and the line "she is my girl, the girl I love" and wrote the rest

     I Take the Blame

..about a kid being done wrong by a girl, but letting it go


     Barless Cage
..about the "cage" of loneliness

     The Green Door
..about getting lucky one night in the local watering hole and looking for her to come back, but she never does

     Wildwood, N.J.
..about the Jersey boardwalk in 1985...it was rockin'!

     Richer for the Ride
..about the appreciation of the love and beautiful found by a wandering man

Toss Me a Line
..about that scary feeling as you open up your heart to someone and make yourself vulnerable

     On the Other Hand

..poetry and art are merely arrows shot into the infinite mind



     Storm at Sea
..written while waiting to go into battle in the Gulf of Sidra (Libya) in the eighties

     Blind Date
..about the thoughts that go through a person's mind before a blind date...is fantasy more vital than flesh?

     The Ballad of Manly Dan
..about a tough but promiscuous sailor who accidentally contracts HIV...we used to sing this at bars around the Mediterranean when I was in the navy

..seems like media monsters rise up every few decades playing the 'you're not a patriot if you don't what we say' card...McCarthy in the fifties and most recently the Bush/Rove machine

     Falling Star
..about how bad the realization that you will never get to have the lover you so desire.....star-crossed seems like such a trite, but true metaphor

     A Toast
..about feeling how that soulmate everyone says is out there may be in some bar some place aching for you as well

     Star Shell
..a melancholy song about the desire to escape the sadness of this old planet for a better place

..about living in a cage of loneliness

     Lady Doll
..about the euphoria of being a newly wed

..oh that search for something never lost or left behind

     Atomic Shadows
..this was written in 1985 which was forty years after the atomic bomb. We're still here is what I tell my children when they worry about all the predictions of the worlds end...although the shadows of Nagasaki and Hiroshima still trail us


I was lead signal processor technician and operator after being on the ship for less than a year which made me about as cocky a young man as you'll ever meet.  I was soon to be humbled beyond measure when I popped a false positive on an HIV test in late 1986.  I had to go to civilian doctors and it took several months to prove the Navy mistaken.  I was getting over blood poison from having my hand bit in a barroom fight when they took the tests and I had a feeling that's what the first test was reading, but it was the most frightening event of my life. I immediately asked to return to the Yorktown upon being cleared for active duty.  I sometimes wondered if it was poetic justice for writing "The Ballad of Manly Dan".

     Aces and Eights

..about a hero with an incurable disease



     Of Flesh and Fear
...a look at partners living life with HIV (AIDS) and trying to cope with it's reality...please practice safe sex boys and girls

     Network of the Lonely
..portrait of a lonely guy walking the streets in the 1980s

     Prince Charming
..about that good-time guy who beds the pretty girls but still deals with his private insecurities

     The Spirit of Yorktown
..written for my shipmates. "If you get out honorably (combat vet or not), no matter where you go or what you do, you'll almost always find another veteran there... and a brother with a bond the rest will never understand."- Jarred W. Browning (my dad)

     Stark Reality
..the USS Stark was hit by an Iranian missile when it failed to react quickly enough to the situation. We were on the USS Yorktown at that time in harms way and knowing that incident could very well have been us inspired this poem

     The Window
..about growing up watching the Vietnam War on TV had a profound effect on my generation...I can't believe those who were made to go fight that mistake turned around and repeated it in Iraq...no lesson learned

     The Kiss
..about a sailor's last thoughts as his ship goes down

..this kind of puts it all in perspective...which is, it's all perspective...possibly one of best pieces ever written

..this was written in 1987 about the millennium which seem so far away at the time and is actually hopeful

     A Tormented Soul
.a portrait of the demon's that haunt me...I was always told I was a miracle and god has a plan for me...that's a lot to live with

     The Card
..about a kid during the Vietnam era receiving his draft notice in the mail and knowing inside he's going to die over there

..an outrageous look at a man's struggle to re-enter the womb

..about wanting to be a faulted martyr

     Love Unreturned
..about loving a country even when it feels like it doesn't love you back

..about being a captive of loneliness and the scars it creates

     Dolly Blue Eyes
..about trying to understand a mentally disturbed lover

     The Warrior Poet
..about how it feels to be a warrior poet...what is it in men that make the thrill of the hunt carry over into love?...play the recording, the intro is Marlon Brando in Julius Caesar

     C.I.C. (Combat Info Center)
..about what it feels like to maintain and operate the most powerful weapons system in the world...written from real experience

     Christmas Time in Naples
..about being in the military and spending Christmas away from home

     Santa’s Greatest Gift

..a sick humored piece written while overseas at Christmas for the second time in three years while in the navy



     The Mermaid
..about a sailors longing for female companionship after being at sea for a while

     Curious Boy
..about how simple being kind and caring seems through the eyes of a child

..about getting picked up and having a fantasy night with a beautiful woman but wise enough to understand the consequences

     Bottled Monster
..about a lonely man seeking a woman to be his salvation

     Forbidden Fruit
..about a man wrestling with fielding the advances of his bosses' wife....ut, oh

     Captain Ambition
..about how it feels to watch the fall of a megalomaniac like Osama Bin Laden or Adolph Hitler

..a satire on infomercials and nuclear holocaust...yes, it really is! I wrote this shortly after we were rammed by the Russians in the Black Sea

..about the excitement of facing fear

     Salem Church
..written about a spooky old church I used to have to walk past as a child and the nightmares it gave me

     Blue Eyed Party Girl

..about pining for an old girlfriend



     Lyin’ in the Dark
..about the duality of a married couple who play out the charade to themselves while their heart's wonder elsewhere

     Crimson Sin
..about the mess of a planet we leave the children

     The Wonder Bar
..about being literally haunted by an old love

..about a lonely guy house sitting and dreaming of what he doesn't have, but desperately wants and needs

..about laying in bed at night looking at the red light on the smoke detector and wondering if it's a hidden camera...paranoia

..about that big timing, made up woman who wants to be a jet-setter but needs a normal man on the side to just make love to

..asks the question - are we all not Christ, the sons and daughters of God?

..about meeting and making love to a beautiful woman in the unlikeliest of places, but it not satisfying your soul

     Buried Treasures
..about an old sailor giving up the sea

     Bayou City
..about a getting out of the service and going home to your girl

     Tainted Charm
..about feeling sorry for Jesus' legacy

     The Wave
..about the feeling of surfing the air waves

     The BB and G

.. about the nightmare of an average guy...WARNING (explicit language and images).



     A Mariner’s Holiday
..written on the last of three holidays spent overseas in the Navy.  This poem is based on a real setting and shows the gritty reality of what it's like to spend the holidays in a foreign port

     The Last Rebel Shot
..questions if universal peace and total order is really what mankind needs...could be boring

     Winter Rose

..about the loneliness and pain of a man and woman being seperated by a military deployment





BOOK 3          


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