The Loss of a Sailing Ship


Forlorn, the creaks that sounded in the night,
across the stillness of the ocean’s voice
in protestation of Poseidon’s mood,
an oaken hull’s frustration sounded clear.

Cold moonlight shed its eerie glow from high,
uneasily it eyed the tranquil scene,
anticipation breached the atmosphere,
as sailors lolled on deck with tightened gut.

The lilt of gentle swells brought no relief
as balmy air brought sweat to furrowed brows,
all hands knew well, the forecast of the sky,
and conversation died as hours wore on.

While jib masts held limp canvases aloft,
the mainsails passed the time in furled suspense,
now eager for the urgency of breeze,
the Captain paced the quarterdeck alone.

Alerted by a single watchman’s cry,
the crew leapt up, to watch advancing squalls,
eyes troubled by the magnitude of storm,
the captain roared new orders to his men.

And sprightly feet scaled ladders to the masts,
as knots were opened, ropes were heaved to spread
old canvas sheets, to catch the surging gales,
as rain lashed crew and decks, with heedless scorn.

Poseidon threw his trident in the air,
and pitched bold waves to slam against the hull,
as lanyards whipped, and sailors fought to tame
the mainsails, tautened by loud screeching winds.

The ship rose high as pounding waves increased,
and fell into descending troughs below,
now deafened by the shrieks of sea god’s rage,
the sailors worked by instinct, to survive.

Then while the bluster of the tempest grew,
their minds were plagued by sea dog’s tales of old,
and conjured images of mermaid’s lure,
but Davey Jones, they knew, was waiting, too.

In drunken heels that lifted keel from brine,
the oakum seal began to lose its grip,
and cabins were the first to see the leaks
where water broke new holes and swirled amok.

When morning sun glazed ocean in gold’s haze,P
no sign remained of sails upon the sea,
except a tri-horn floating on soft tides;
all hands were lost aboard this oaken hull.

© Alf Collier, 2016

Public Domain Image