The Spoonbill Generator

Gateways Home To Worthing

We set out, full of hope and ale, one grey December morn [TG]

We threw the dice to choose our route, and settled on Cape Horn [Roland]

The sails were full, the captain too, as we pulled out of port [TG]

And settled on the Dogger Bank more swiftly than we ought [Roland]

"All hands on deck!" the captain cried, and soon we stood, aghast, [TG]

To view the stern all rudderless, the deck without a mast [Roland]

We drifted there for forty hours, with one conclusion plain [TG]

We weren't advancing much, nor were we heading home again. [Roland]

"Man overboard!", the lookout cried, as waves began to rise [TG]

Across the prow, a sudden swell of quite alarming size [Roland]

Near carried off the cabin boy, and caused the crew to quail [TG]

On noting, 'mid the turbulence, a small vermilion whale [Roland]

Which eyed them with a grave concern, and twitched its starboard fluke [TG]

A gesture which, our Captain said, was meant as a rebuke [Roland]

But every man aboard our raft would swear he's seen a ghost [TG]

The cook saw one, the bosun three; the Captain saw the most [Roland]

Just then, as night began to fall, we heard a faint "Halloo!" [TG]

The tiny voice of something surely smaller than a shrew [Roland]

We peered about to ascertain if rescue was at hand [TG]

Or whether something even more unsettling was planned [Roland]

To wreck our day, when from the gloom a wondrous sight appeared [TG]

With hair of writhing seaweed, and tentacles for beard [Roland]

We recognised Him instantly, and fell unto our knees [TG]

Before the mighty Kraken, the terror of the seas [Roland]

"Oh, spare our souls, and send us home!" the quiv'ring chaplain cried [TG]

While half the crew, the captain too, considered suicide [Roland]

The apparition paused for thought, then drew a mighty breath [TG]

And whispered something ominous. We caught the one word, "Death" ... [Roland]

Before the exhalation blew us headlong to the main [TG]

Forties, Viking, Fair Isle, Faroes, then right back again [Roland]

We raised a cheer, the captain most of all, as into view [TG]

There hove a stretch of coastline that we few survivors knew [Anon.]

It seemed that Fate had played on us a most mischeevous trick [TG]

The ocean settled flat and yet we all felt pretty sick [Roland]

We all drew straws, the captain first, to see who'd go ashore [TG]

And 'lackaday it fell to me to pick the shortest straw [Roland]

The boat sank low, my spirits too, as silently I rowed [TG]

Trusting that calm surface wouldn't suddenly explode [Roland]

I heaved for what seemed like a week (t'was actually an hour) [TG]

Before I realised ... the boat was sapping all my power [Roland]

I dived from the accursèd boat and struck out at a crawl [TG]

Mine energy was barely equal to a longish haul [Roland]

But when my strength had all but ebbed I washed up with the tide [TG]

On the very stretch of coastline that 'I like to be beside' [Roland]

The seagulls soared, my spirits too, but then a sudden chill [TG]

Swept over me on noticing a cloud above Bexhill [Roland]

That cloud loomed over empty plain, where once were bustling streets [TG]

And termite hills replaced the former pensioners' retreats [Roland]

Though mystified and fearful yet, I knew what I must do [TG]

To save my failing sanity (if not restore the view) [Roland]

I staggered back into the surf and struck out for the ship [TG]

Which, in a former century, had set out on a trip [Roland]

Intended to enrich us all with piracy and crime [TG]

Until the Kraken's onslaught had transplanted us in time [Roland]

I briefed the crew; we left the ship to drift (we thought it best) [TG]

And grace the page of legend by the name 'Marie Celeste' [Roland]

Contributors: TG, Roland.
Poem finished: 12th February 2004 by TG.