After a brief delay, here are the poems to vote on this week. As ever, let me know of any errors or omissions.
I was built to move, To ply the ocean, My sturdy keel Challenging the waves In all weather. But now here I sit, Landlocked, stilled by the great storm That sent me here Amid the moveless grass and flowers. Here I've become a home, Strange shelter for the mice and rats and squirrels Scurrying across my slanted decks, For ants, bees, beetles, wasps crawling, flying in every cabin, For countless spiders spinning countless webs, For bats and birds, for snakes and centipedes, My full menagerie of living things. Instead of being harbored between voyages I have become a harbor, Content to rest Until my mouldering timbers Sink into the welcoming earth.
Ship of Fools
Imagine a ship in which the captain Is somewhat deaf, somewhat blind, and ignorant of navigation The crew competing for the right to steer All ignorant of star charts, wind paths and sounding weights Praising their captain in the hopes of being chosen To hold the wheel, to navigate
It does not matter what is in the belly of the beast But who sets the course, shouts the orders, turns the wheel The captain, degenerating, picks his First Mate By how low the man will stoop to rise By how he polishes the mirror in the captain’s quarters By how he follows random stars, named in the captain’s praise
In the belly of the beast, the passengers Dream of a homeland of religious sanctity and racial purity They pick out random continents in the hopes of God’s good grace Praying the captain will deliver them to eternity In a land they deserve; he unintentionally Obliges, stranding his ship of fools on the foreshore of stupidity
The glory was a merchant ship that blundered throught the main with a belly full of packing crates from Araby and Spain.
She carried fur and furniture, incense, hash and tar she hefted swords and cinnamon from shore to ship to bar.
Burnt oranges and apricots, tourmalines and pearls, souvenirs and priceless gems she ferried round the world.
Her crew were leathery and wild their words carved out with care, their ears stabbed through with ivory curled feathers in their hair.
Once the tide grew strong and hot she bellied in the green and when the tide was weak and cold she cantered, slow and lean.
But then she grew too old to shift, her ropes lay slack and wet, her empty belly creaked with strain her sails refused to set.
A kindly tide remembered her from wicked days of yore and folded round a mighty hand to cast her up on shore.
And there a meadow grew around her salt embargoed thighs and birds and rabbits settled in and knew her windy sighs.
So nobody remembers now the spitting spray and sand, the moonlight on the dusky decks the crew so free and tanned.
They see a wooden ship lain down so far away from sea and sit awhile against her sides and fall asleep and dream.
And so it is with all of us when finally we lie and know that we won't move again beneath a shifting sky.
Nobody remembers us and what we used to be wild buccaneers who used to ride a wide and surging sea.
Two by two, together they went, Up the ramp of the wooden ship. Fear in their eyes, smelling the scents Of predators whose fangs could rip.
They’d turn and run but greater still Was their fear of the tumultuous rain That covered the land up to the hills And higher, in the land of Cain.
So on they walked or crawled or slithered Into the dark and airless hold. At the sight of cages, all hopes withered. Too late to try to turn and bolt.
They were the lucky ones on that ark, The others left to drown In rising floods, under skies gone dark Where even the birds had flown.
For forty days and forty nights The little ship was tossed, While in the hold they held on tight, All hope of salvation lost.
Until one day the rugged craft On a mountain top did land. In a meadow now, it sits stuck fast, Deserted by both beast and man.
Over rolling hills embracing the shore I rode this summers day. I saw dancing sunlight on the waves Far out to sea at play.
The path led to a meadow. Where flowers startled me with color. So taken with the sweet fragrance At first, I didn't glimpse the other.
Imagine my thrill and awe when I saw An ancient hulk of some forgotten Caravel. All sheathed in copper against salt of the sea Transformed into a hue of verdigris.
The vibrant lines of the old sailing ship Echoed the adventures it must have known. How far did it travel plunging through Tossing, turbulent seas of foam.
I gazed in wonder at the sight. Feeling the voyage that brought her there. Perhaps on some stormy night. She came here to rest with no one to care.
Where are sailors who stood upon her deck? Where is her cargo from some distant land? Where had she traveled and why Did she come to rest beyond the sand?
I will never know how to solve the mystery. Of this once proud Caravel. Never to know her history To make a story, that I might tell.
These waves Which move us Through continents and Eras Into relentless fog Angry uprooting storms And the places where We do not belong, Ever
Stranded on hostile shores Looking with eyes Clouded with hunger and Stubborn loneliness
Then One day We float in Unexpectedly On a shore where The small pink flowers Have taken over. We roll over to one side Lopsided we wait And allow the light blue sky The grasses The flowers and the scent To fill us to the brim
MY NEW HOME
The tempest rages, the waves they heave Like a paper boat, I am tossed by the sea. “Man overboard,” I hear them shout, To a vicious, watery end, no doubt. I pitch and whirl, rise then plunge, By this roaring monster, I am flung. They battle for survival at my helm, But against this enemy, they are overwhelmed.
Their shouts, their cries become drowned out, I feel their bodies being thrashed about. They have lost the fight, I am now alone, And like a feather, I am tossed and blown, By the navigator of my destiny, So I surrender to its supremacy. My fate is sealed, I’ll join the crew, On the sea bed, in waters blue.
My structure is shaken by a sudden jolt, As I find I’ve come to a sudden halt, On a grassy destination, my new domain, The sun’s gentle rays, dry my skeletal frame. Fragrant floras, a sight to behold, Adorn nature’s garden, my new home. The colourful blooms, so delicately Honour the lives that were lost at sea.
Boat, boat Not afloat, Dying in a field, Boat, boat Not afloat, What stories you could yield.
Boat, boat High and dry, Came there so long ago, Boat, boat High and dry, From mighty floods great flow.
Boat, boat Sad to see, Rotting slow and sure, Boat, boat Sad to see, On this unlikely shore.
“Neh, sire, ‘tis you sire, ‘Tis you who has to walk, For ‘tis you, the liar, On one real leg, the stork.”
“Shiver mi wotsits, capt’n, I’m innocent of that crime, No idea how it happen, That musket weren’t mine.”
A stick pokes in his back, Further he hops along the plank, Timber squeaks, doesn’t crack, Swordsman pushes, hand on flank.
“This, sire, is my brig, You’re nothing but a marauder, A one-legged pirate pig, Only fit for slaughter.”
“Capt’n please, I beg of ya, Mi leg is made of cast-iron, I’ll sink down even faster, ‘an a fully laden galleon.”
Both scuffle feet an’ peg along, Further, further to the end, Who’s right, who’s wrong, Creaking wood starts to bend.
A loud crack and crunching splinter, Pirate and Capt’n drop voices shrill,A They land on grass in fits of laughter, And two boys roll down the grassy hill.