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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Humorous they said

Humorous they said!      Impossible!
How can we make jokes about ships and the sea?
Glorious history ; the seven seas
Cook, Nelson, and all , Heroic. Not humorous

And Admiral Byng, for failing to engage the French
in March of ‘57, in magnificent ceremony,
shot on the deck of the Monarch,
riding at anchor in Portsmouth harbour

He was George , but there was John Byng and Richard
Admirals all, and pubs and schools and historical societies,
named after one or the other
Even as cowards, they’re famous, not humorous.

And one’s own adventures to tell,
Perhaps not across all seven
But heroically across channels, straits and rivers
around  the four corners of the globe.

Courtesy of a job with forever travel
First attempt on Acapulco Bay
Learning the ropes in San Francisco
Crossing the channel dead in the night.

Inspired by Hornblower,  Aubrey and all
Heroes who could both fight and sail
The first engagement was a hired boat,
Across the bay, with an admiring one ashore

I know not how Nelson learned to sail
But it was not by hired boat
For this one  flipped, and with me on top
started slowly drifting out to sea.

He came out when my hour was up.
The admiring one had gone to sleep,
But since then I have sailed the world,
never again astride a turned-over  boat.

Adventures galore, hours on smelly rivers
The Yumna into the Ganges
And the poisonous Potomac too
But sailing always the right way up.

Navigational  feats without number
Frobisher in the North West passage
Bligh  4000 miles in open boat
Me across the channel

La Manche; the channel at night
Rough it was ,dark, all of us a-heaving
Correcting for the sweep of tides
France on the horizon in dim light finally.

Which way Deauville?  he asks ,
Port I reply, surely half right
Frobisher must have made some guesses
Ours were just as wrong as his, 
But we at least came back.

All night. Exhausted. Next day into the pond
Tripping face first on the mooring rope
Woken at last  to the nurse’s thermometer
Frobisher didn’t have to face it like that.

Then came the first of seven
The Tasman, oh a wicked sea
Chichester around the world capsized
Only in this beast of a sea.

We tried last year, Dave and me,
Along with  Dave’s light at the time
But she got sick not far from shore
So that day we thought was not for us.

Tried once more again last month
Cautious of Chichester’s sea
Forecast after forecast , but finally the day
that was smooth & safe for Dave and for me.

So safe in fact that wind it died
And we did not sail the first of our seas
But now the boat up there sits, waiting for
the day they forecast winds the other way.

And in the meantime we sit and dream.
Of Anson round the Horn,
Drake on the Spanish Main
Or me on my second sea.

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