A massive moon cast mournful red
Upon the silent sea
Where wandered, lost to land and hope,
A pack of piratry.
Aboard the Rapax they had roamed
From Holland to Cathay,
From Sousse to Santos and had lost
Their souls along the way.
Now, as some slept, some played, some drank
Their world into a blur,
Way down below the glowing calms
Something began to stir.
Far, far below, where rotten hulls
Lie with forgotten gold
Among the coral-coated bones
Of sailors lost of old,
Leviathan, who’d slumbered there
For several centuries,
Was woken, and the sea began
To swell without a breeze.
All dropped their drinks, their dice, their dreams,
And hied to deck, aghast
To feel the roil, yet see the sail
Hang limply from the mast.
And then, beneath the bleeding moon,
From out the foaming throes
Of tortured, torn-asunder waves,
His mass was huge and slick with slime;
His ancient eyes were lit
By samples of the selfsame fire
That fills Gehenna’s pit,
A fire the waters of the main
Could not suffice to quench,
And more than rotten flesh produced
The monster’s Stygian stench:
Both flesh and spirit were decayed;
Both flesh and spirit bore
The scars Jehovah’s thunderbolts
There carved forevermore
When Lucifer, who dared aspire
To seize the Threefold’s crown,
Was cursed and hurled with all his host
Off heaven’s highest, down
Into the wrath-created depths,
The world of wails and woe,
Where, thorough black and blasted vales,
Five doleful rivers flow.
Leviathan had graced the train
Of Lucifer the Bright;
That horror rising from the deep
Had been a spirit of light!
The men primed cannons and harpoons,
But what could those avail
Against a fallen heaven-born?
One swinging of his tail
Splintered the deck and split the mast;
The prideful prow was crushed;
Into the galley’s shattered shell
The raging waters rushed.
The sea then caught the fires of hell
And whirled infernally,
Snatching the Rapax round and down
With all her piratry.
Thus did the Rapax, which had struck
The seven seas with dread,
Go down to join the rotten hulls
Upon the ocean’s bed.
Her plunder-hoard was added to
The deep-forgotten gold,
Her crew laid down among the bones
Of sailors lost of old.
Yet one survived to tell the tale
(It comes not from the wind!):
A band of British privateers
Who sought the shores of Ind
Hauled up a madly muttering man
Who stared at unseen skies,
Lying upon a blackened plank,
With devils in his eyes.
© 2020 Sarah van der Pas