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Poetry #480
(published April 1, 2010)
by Luminator Thelms
After weeks of long becalmings
With water short, and scurvy soon
Our bane, we raise land at last
In foreign waters. No treaty yet

Allows shelter for my frigate.
Soon forth sails an emissary
Asking, for Monsieur le Consul,
Of our voyage and my intentions.

I pen some words; at eight bells
He brings reply: Monsieur le Consul
Being absent for a twelvemonth,
The Consul's wife has bid us welcome.

"No ship's called these seven years,"
The envoy says, "At this outpost."
Waylaid, perchance, in the late War;
This port o'rlooked in war's confusion.

Now shore batteries turn aside,
As the harbor's seagate lowers;
Only sun-bleached standards rise,
Standing for a Nameless country.

My message given careful study,
A fine report on us proffered
By her humble message-bearer,
The wife's respect has been induced:

She pours out her admiration
Of my frigate and its crew,
Asks of supplies we must carry
From our homeland. She proposes

Parley with her at her table,
In Monsieur le Consul's place.
I'd secure from general quarters,
Not unfurl my Nation's standard,

Gain her harbor, grant my crew
Shore liberty. But long absence
Does not revoke the ancient laws:
Monsieur is of a Foreign Power.

Shall I wait for dark to land
One longboat at some distant cove
March overland with small bounties
As one can bare within his arms,

Dine behind the shuttered window,
Depart in silence, with such fruits
As but would delay the scurvy
For mere days? Shall rising tide

Draw me bold to harbor's quay,
To face down the Customs man
—Or, bribe? and set aside embargo,
Load fresh provisions that await

Another ship that's never come—
Be feted in it's Captain's place?
Accept these gifts Monsieur le Consul
Would refuse me, were he here?

Distant monarchs would forbid it.
If I'd betray my Native Oath,
I'll cross the bar with gun ports bare,
'Neath the black flag of Piracy!

Luminator Thelms lives and writes in California.

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