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Eight bells. Starboard watch. Tightened up another notch. Holy upheaval rages ‘neath a cathedral sky. Losing way as the wind whips up the spray. Stormy tormentors rubbed salt in my one good eye. Felt the tension in the rigging. Sensed the strain upon the keel. Manned the pumps and reefed the tops’ls. Heaven’s judgment; no appeal. Two bells. Buntlines fouled. Ship’s physician prays aloud. Hearts have been pounding since the tempest began to brew. Kingdom come, can’t remember where we’re from. Tried to dream back, but it’s blurred as an old tattoo. Once we knew the harbor’s shelter. Once we heard the shorebird’s song. Once we mocked the earth we stood on, Starved the weak to feed the strong. Four bells. Spied the coast. Lashed the helmsman to his post. Punished ourselves, though it’s the ocean that misbehaves. Bells ring true, but I can’t add two and two. Crew punchy and shot from bucking the white-capped waves. Heard the bos’n howl for mercy. Watched the cabin boy grow old. Wished the rock should split the timber And the sea should flood the hold. Six bells. Wanton tones. Felt the sound caress my bones. Silver-tongued sirens tried to lure me beneath the foam. Break that thread; like to find my way to bed. Early comes early, and mate, it’s a long trip home. For the times we played the bully, Breaking teeth and pulling hair, For the treasures that we’ve buried And the dimes we couldn’t spare, I’ll be a damned Dutchman’s fool. Like to blow the bastard down. Eight bells. Larboard watch. Tightened up another notch…

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021

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