Poem: Ghost Ship

Beneath the stormy waves the ghost ship plunged.
It out of sight, we hoped she was now done,
and quick was our attention wrest that night
with awful weather we forgot that sight.
And yet the truth: the ship forsook us not,
but under raging seas it passed un-fraught.
It under our small boat did sailing come
while we above did fight to save our rum.
To keep the demons’ drink from devils’ sea
the crew, doomed men, performed most valiantly.

You rumrunners who in the night’s reproach
poison deliver to the decent folk:
beware, sailors, the ghost ship in your wake;
beware, good men, the paths that you now take.

The storm abated once three men were lost.
The third, once falling in the waves that tossed,
did calm the fury of that mystic gale,
but killed the wind. And thus went slack our sail,
putting an end to this: our raft’s swift flight.
The fog, dreadful and thick, rolled in that night.
We struck a light for that dim lantern’s glow,
and thus we came to learn of our deep woe.
In terror cried the men of rippling shoals.
‘Twas to the rudder, else to lose our souls.

You rumrunners who in the night’s dark depths
your rum you run and poor weak hearts affect:
beware, sailors, the ghost ship in your wake;
beware, good men, the paths that you now take.

A breadth of hair was all we could create
between ourselves and such disastrous fate
of running ground within this cloudy bank,
gutting our hull before we doomed men sank.
But missing bubbling ocean’s shallow broth
all eyes then turned to see the raging froth.
A mind afraid that tried to pierce the dark,
and what I saw I was declined to hark:
Its form was gone before my thoughts were born,
it veiled in mists, the ghost ship, I’d have sworn.

O rumrunners that only sail disguised,
a source of pain to those whom you despise:
beware, sailors, the ghost ship in your wake;
beware, good men, the paths that you now take.

Methinks me saw it rising from the blue,
the deep adorned in somber blackish hue,
its forward bow upturned to pierce the sky,
her splashing sails making salt water fly.
Those shoals we thought a rudder would avoid
was merely how that slaver’s galley toyed
with us her chosen prey in winter’s cold.
At least I thought before the fog in rolled.
Thus veiled I chide myself for foolish fears,
thereby ignoring splashing I could hear.

O rumrunners sailing when all else sleep,
who tempt men from the promises they’d keep:
beware, sailors, the ghost ship in your wake;
beware, good men, the paths that you now take.

But splish and splash we hear her ghostly oars
beating the water, yet our crew ignores
foretelling signs of time’s unfolding course,
and of those sounds forget the frightful source.
Now with sail’s slack we drifting smugglers
slowly careen as fruitless strugglers.
Now cursing Devil and his firebrand
then pleading saints entreat with wrenching hands,
we sow our fortune in this cont’ry way:
pleading any who over fate holds sway.

Dear rumrunners who pray with cursing lips,
wishing thyself and cargo safely ships:
beware, sailors, the ghost ship in your wake;
beware, good men, the paths that you now take.

No wind would come to aid us in our need,
nor would the sky with treasures thereby lead
to harbors safe and buyers’ ready cash.
Bemoaning this sad state I spy a flash,
and through the fog it shines like a lit match.
With anxious peering eyes I try to catch
some sight of this strange, softly glowing orb.
The light a shadow casts on our starboard:
a manly form, to us sailors well known,
a crewmen lost to sea, one of our own.

Dear rumrunners divested of your luck,
who with familiar spooks are sudd’nly struck:
beware, sailors, the ghost ship in your wake;
beware, good men, the paths that you now take.

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