Devil's Island

Written by: Madeleine McLaughlin

I'll tell you a tale
of our own Devil's Island
and the demonic crash
of the waves in the swell.
The smell and the taste
of the ball breaking weather;
the ghosts that deliver 
poor sailors to Hell.

We were out in the water
in the Magdalens
the wind plucked the ropes
of our rigging at sea.
We looked for a port 
and saw many lights flashing
"That's old Devil's Island,"
said the skipper to me.

Tongues began hurling
their fierce imprecations
"to come to the island
safe landfall to thee."
But the skipper turned round
the ship with a vengeance,
"That old Devil's Island
will never get me."

I thought he was mad
to be scared of a legend
it was my first time
in a storm on the sea
and two men washed over
to Davey Jones locker
"God bless 'em, they'll rest now,"
the skip said to me.

Protesting the treatment
of two forlorn sailors
I said to the skipper,
"It's not very well."
"It's better," he said,
"that they're resting in Heaven
than entering into
the portals of Hell."

The wind lasted the night
then the voices did falter
the lights blinkered out
and I saw very well
so many rocks, jagged
just waiting to smash us
the Devil's Isle gateways
await in the swell.

If you're on a ship
and the voices of demons
come tell you it's safe
in their harbor a lee
remember the shoreline
at old Devil's Island
then turn the ship seaward
and gracelessly flee.