Joe Pivetti's Poetry, Haiku and Poesy: Poem 5
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Schoooner or Later

 

Afore a yarn, and to wet his lips somewhat,
A tired old man unshived a scuttlebutt.
He ladled out a mighty cold swill,
Drank up, and began this tale.
"We be racked by a gale.
We reached and we ran
Out across a tempestuous sill.
Then be it still; betime she lay in irons.
We unbrailed and swigged up more sail,
Up close to the hounds and the bibbs.
But a strong flaw popped a gib
And we untillered into a skerry allision abeam -
Despite a fast aback by the team.
Well, we 'ad to kedge off a bit
With a rode and a killick.
We opened the scuppers and limbers
And manned the bailers and pails.
Our Cap'n and bos'n hollered
Fer the gadget to watch o'er the wales...
Hopin' that we'd hold fer a trick."

"The deck be rent and come proud
Such that haulin' a gaff apeak allowed
A batten and carling test for yer feet.
Oh, yarr, we sure be beat...
And with me under the weather.
But we got to work together.
We laid some cargo out on the deck
With a snorter or two for a check
Without garbling and aft of a dodger it be.
Then we steeved the richest into the cuddy.
Then we swayed up the lines,
Stepped o'er the ballantines,
Untallied the sheets and wung out the sails,
And scudded on a new run and saw...
We must outfoot a yare spanker
That had come about from a brume with the law."

Atop the binnacle I could see when we
Took to a rhumb friendlier than the rest.
And finally we found haven from that stormy sea.
There a mate tossed out a hockle abreast
And played it out to the bitter end
Before it be taken up by matelots of men.
We hauled alongside their bumboat of a dink
So's we might tap the slush fund for salt horse
And rations of new rum to drink.
After the fare came up the brow,
Or by way of the bouse,
We had a fare samplin'
Such that the ship's chippy
Got sideways to a bumpkin.
He burst into staggerin' rage and racket
And with boom vang and becket
He went to war with a tar
Who came to arms with a long spritted crance.
They injured the crew more than themselves
And after their dance...
They had the devil to pay.
It was that or the captain's daughter.
So o'er a hull they went athwart her
With beetle and loggerhead
To seal the unsealable seam
And drink their fill of the sea.
'Avast' called our mate of dread
When he saw they'd be awash
Afore he thought they'd atoned fully.
So he took a bight around each limb fast,
Stretched 'em across a bitt
And gave 'em the bimmy
(Till they was soft, baggywrinkly
And not worth a brit)."

I was that tar and I went
Over and ashore in a trice
When that ship was careened,
Unstepped and unbent.
I'm here to tell ya in shame
That I've nothin to show
For twenty years 'fore the mast.
Not a cringle or clew to me name.
But I'll never be pooped again
For that mate's starter is me end."
He cut off his queue and said
"This will have to stead as me bottomry
And ye'll do me right handsomely
If ye might pipe me down
To rest 'neath a heavy groin
With the foam of a torrid overfall nearby.
There where I might go full and by
Not down to Davy Jones' locker,
But with spindrift up to that taunt aerie;
Which'll be the final nest for this ol' lubberly sailor."

Here is a link to a glossary of nautical terms


Copyright 2019 by Joe Pivetti