Poetry


song lyrics & minor poems

Narrations of a marooned pirate

Narrations of a marooned pirate

a sea poem in prose
complete & unabridged


To all my friends, past and present,
I dedicate this maudlin tale,
in knowledge of its contradiction.

A–A Z.

I have just woke up – just now – suddenly. My senses are still weak, kind of divided between this world and “the other” so, please, tell me, what caused my awakening? Have any of you produced any noise – raised a foul voice? Did you shake my body violently, poke me in the eye? You did not turn on the hideous lights! For it’s dark in here… my den… it’s dark most of the time, admittedly… – save a candle.

Frankly, I don’t have the faintest idea what forced me to rush back here, I had such a hard time escaping this time… – Wait for a moment, if you please. What we need is a waxen finger that points light in the dark… oh, forgive my blabbing!... – a candle, simply/commonly.
Ah, there, there now. – How many of you? Nevermind, see? I’m all sweaty – and this stench of grog still lingers on me… which – I do understand – makes me quite an unpleasant company.
Yes, please, do tell me, why are you here, what is it that you want with me? You know I shouldn’t be here, at the present time. Even the candle disapproves my awakening – see how it shuns my uttering – it wants me to be silent – fast asleep.

But – now I’m awake so, let’s make it worthy. – I keep some childhood in boxes – the rest of it, I don’t even want to remember, have I told you that already? Yes? Well then, listen to this:
Please, be seated round my mouth
Comfortably on my beard
And listen closely to this tale:
“The narration of a marooned pirate”

As regards the reader, I suggest you have a slice of bread and a glass of wine. Impose on yourself a moment of silence; my visuals are fully hidden symbols.

Tall, bearded, muscular and lame, that is me;
I’ve earned some gold and some fame out to sea
On an island now, marooned,
I write songs to be crooned

After the mutiny – of which I was the ringleader – had failed, that scoundrel the captain gave orders the mutineers to run the gauntlet. And so they did our fellow-men, unwillingly, they picked up birches… - Fierce blows rocked my backbone, inflicting deep cuts on my flesh. A pain that was extended by the saltiness of the air. Then he mouthed one single word, that old villain: exile. That would be my penalty. And I knew where would that be – all men on board knew – knew and shuddered at the mere thought of it… We had passed the spot three days earlier.

It was a bright-blue morning, I clearly remember – we were sailing on dead reckoning after a violent nightly storm, when the sky turned distinctively darker – yet cloudless – and we froze to the spot – the waters had an unnatural coldness here... – goggle-eyed, a shadow on our hearts: emerging from the deep, eroded by waves and barren, stood a speck of land – as if aborted from the bowels of the earth – the devil’s own abomination… – No fiendish mouth spoke in my ear of my impending doom and so, I stood there open-jawed, a mere beholder of what my ill fate held for me to be the place of my exile, the ball in my chain – or, as I now refer to it, my “newly-found abode”.

Well, I’m here quite some time already, how long, I don’t really remember; I have now renounced the skull and cross-bones, shaved, even threw my pipe away. My caul I kept though, ironically… I consider myself more of a sailor now, than a pirate, really.
Well, these songs are no sea laments meant to soothe
the sailor’s heart – they only meant to voice MY truth:
Human beings I do blame
for the hatred I can’t tame

…You might think that, by renouncing my criminal ego, I admit some kind of regret and a need to be accepted amongst humans once again; that I’m preparing myself to break free from my chain and make it for the ocean; you might even have come to the conclusion that I’m actually fighting my way out of this place and back into humankind. – No. NO! None of this is true, you got it all so wrong! You’re the cause that had me narrating this tale, since you are the living proof that humans DON’T care trying to understand. Did you really not notice that I accepted my banishment somehow carelessly?... Of course you didn’t. – As such, I suggest you take extra care, as we are slowly approaching the climax – highest point of the story, and I mean this literally – as we are approaching the lighthouse.
And, though this inward raging storm never does cease,
the lighthouse’s upright, white form makes it a breeze –
Isn’t this what friends must do,
Or am I the only fooled?...

It often occurs to me that the lighthouse in question is what I value most. An inanimate thing, yes; but unwearied too, when it comes to “friend-debt” – unlike some: “Sorry sir, no quaintness allowed in here”… – Indeed, this lighthouse truly is what I hold most dear. Why, I see you’re intrigued! Holding on to small things, that’s what lonesome pirates do. And it takes a lonesome pirate for every lighthouse to be built. What varies, being what really matters, is its function:

More commonly known as “The Observer”, this fully-fledged spy has witnessed shipwrecks, sirens, mermaids, spectral-ships, trading vessels carrying precious cargoes – cinnamon, pepper and other spices brought over from China, tobacco from America, textiles and carpets from Persia – carrying slaves, King Neptune stuffing under the sea’s ravelled carpet beauty unknown to the human eye (unknown until it creeps ashore), drowning the most experienced seamen – it is his toll, the wise man returning home.

Many of you, as it was to be expected, know the function of “The Antenna”, having already made use of it. Requests for love to be granted, questions about death to be answered – all summed up make a perfect recitation of complaints you bestow upon the antenna.

Few of you are acquainted with “The Plank”; not in the shape of that punishment we, pirates, are supposed to enforce on scum – that’s a lie – but in the shape of purgatory, more likely – a plank across heavens… – And now you all want to know which one of the interpretations I claim as mine... Well – none. I fashioned myself a new idea and, acting in hindsight upon it, I relish watering “The Stem”; this I now confess – if only to myself – I let it slip out of the corner of my mouth, just there…

That my heavy, iron armour lies rusting on a shingly shore, clanking miserably; the bilious-looking bascinet, moss-grown, hangs dislodged in a gruesomely abnormal angle with its snout-resembling visor opened to the sky. – I reckon I dropped it some time during the construction of the lighthouse… It has worn well for years, impervious to other people and their emotional paraphernalia. Now pink baby crabs, succumbing to its strange warmth, find a home in it, mistaking it for the empty shell of some gigantic sea beast.

A loved one’s sweet farewell and godspeed
is all a seaman will ever need
to not become a pirate like the one in this tale,
who thinks a lighthouse will fill in where people fail.


Text Copyright © A-A Zafiropoulos/CRESTFALLEN, 2008

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