That’s Towboat’n

When the night still is broken,
by the clicking of ratchets.
You know tows built by men workin’,
with cables not hatchets.

The moon is so bright,
deckhands work without light.
While wheelmen shift barges,
with power and might.

They come bye on the one,
or sometimes on the two.
Do you stand on the bank,
as they sail past you too?

The hum of their engines,
seems to drag me away.
As the lights of tows passing,
slip out to the bay.

They stay gone forever.
That's really not true.
But 28 and 14,
is a long time to be blue.

Their memories are vivid,
of both children, and past crews.
They are missed from their homes,
and wheelhouses here too.

Although they be lonely,
They are never alone.
God surely is with them,
while protecting their homes.

Their cargoes they vary,
from poison to food.
Perhaps that is why,
not always the best mood ?

So when you drive by a river,
or cross over the bay.
Give a wave to the towboats,
slowly making their way.

I'm blessed to work with them,
and dispatch their orders.
To make less of their shifting,
and searching for barges.

I've learned most their voices,
but rarely a face.
I pray they look forward,
to fleeting at this place.

Sometimes they wait weather,
and I'll make us a pot.
We work in the A.C.,
while they are so hot.

Here at the Bolivar Terminal,
their voice is my friend.
I wonder if they'll remember me,
When they get to the end?

-Daryl W. Mardis Sr.
Bolivar Barge Terminal
(Mile 343.6 I.C.W.W.)
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April 2006 Volume 1,, Issue 3
Last updated 4/19/06
Daryl agreed,  saying "...due to the fact that it really belongs to all the guys out here, on
the water."
You can address any comments to Daryl or feedback regarding his poem to
editor, please
write "That's Towboat'n" in the subject line of your email.
From all of us at, Thanks Daryl!