Longlisted Poem 2012

Anne Burberry

The King’s (The Cathedral) School, Peterborough

Sea Sick

Ship’s Log, HMS Pigeon
Back when we started this voyage, our crew numbered thirty and five,
But, sadly, now me and Blenkinsopp are the only two still left alive.

What happened was this:
Adams ate too much ship’s biscuit and died of a stomach complaint;
Bletchley drank so much grog so late at night that he fell overboard in a faint;
Carey and Crompton got shot and were killed in a very brief battle we had;
Dawes was shot too, and he soon after died of his wounds.  It was terribly sad.
Evans was eaten by eagles, or at least that’s what Faversham said,
But he was delusional anyway, and so ill the next day he was dead.
Gallagher drowned in the stew pot, an especially gross way to go;
Henderson gave in to heatstroke and Harrison froze in the snow;
Irving tripped over and landed upon a stray cutlass, I’m sorry to say.
Jones fought a duel against Jarman and Jefferson got in the way.
Kirke was on lookout duty when the mast snapped clean in two –
He landed on Lewis and Lister. It’s horrible, yes, but it’s true.
Morris was struck by lightning.  Well, he would stand outside in the rain.
We had to dispose of poor Norris because he was going insane.
Oswald was finished by scurvy – all his fingers were rotting away;
Apparently, Peters was mauled by a bear, but I was a-sleeping that day;
Quentin fell out of his hammock one night.  When we found him, he’d broken his neck.
Rolfe somehow drowned in a bucket, the one he was using for scrubbing the deck.
We don’t know what happened to Silverstone-Smith.  He just seemed to vanish, like that.
A barrel of rum was improperly stacked, fell on Terry and squashed him quite flat.
Usher and Underwood’s suicide pact brought me this close to giving up hope;
Victor was climbing the rigging and strangled himself with the rope;
Walters and Winters, both carrying knives, bumped into each other too hard;
What we could find left of Xavier, down in the hold, was disturbingly charred;
Yaxley dropped dead of exhaustion from doing dead crew-members’ chores;
Seagulls killed Zachary, tore him apart with their beaks (not to mention their claws).

Well, perhaps it’s just me, but I simply can’t help but feel that there’s something not right,
And Blenkie and I have been drifting for weeks, not a hint of a coastline in sight.
We’ve got loads of excess supplies now, but sometime they’ve got to run out.
I hope that the wind picks up – hang on a tick, I think I heard Blenkinsopp shout.

Land ho!
I see it, I see in the distance!  An island, an island, I say!
Here it comes looming up out of the mist.  I don’t think it’s too far away.
We’re going to make it, Blenkinsopp!  We’re going to make it alive!
The last two survivors, the last of a crew that had once numbered thirty and five.
We tie up the ship in a sort of a natural harbour cut out of the land,
And together the two of us start to walk steadily over the rolling sand.
I don’t know what island this is yet.  I hope that the locals are nice.
Look, here are a few of them coming!  We’ll be over there in a trice.
But as we get closer and closer, I’m not sensing very good vibes.
The banner they’re holding says: ‘Welcome to the World Convention of Cannibal Tribes.’
© Anne Burberry

Project Details

  • Date February 6, 2015
  • Tags 2012 Voyages - Longlisted Poems