Tag Archives: sailors

Burt Wendell

Burt Wendell

Burt Wendell was a mariner,
a mariner was he,
and he was never happier
than when he was at sea.

He found the ground too permanent,
too solid and too tame.
He preferred waves in merriment
and states too rough to name.

No tall typhoon could sink his ship,
no whale or hurricane.
He knew how to mend every rip
on the watery main.

He was married to a mermaid,
met on the south sea shore,
he claimed in every inn he stayed,
his hearers asked for more.

Burt Wendell was a mariner,
he sailed the ocean wide,
from the Arctic to Africa,
on cold to tropic tide.


These Oceans

These Oceans

I strayed into long ago,
somewhere in the east,
yes, the Orient.
Time moved slow,
like the wings of a cormorant.
I made my way to a stall
in a market square,
shiny stones drew me there.
The old jeweller said:
“Did you know,
this earth sits on a sapphire,
and by its glow the sky is blue?”
I told him of that I was unaware,
but what he said made sense of all of it.
Who I once was I never knew.
To where I was, I had lost the clue.
Among these turning wheels,
the truth we strain to know.
The cold chain we grasp,
to fly or fall when we let go.
There was I,
a sailor not long stepped ashore.
A strange harbour to explore,
haven for ships with scarlet sails.
I stayed in an inn,
slept without dream.
When I woke,
I felt I had the key to a paradise.
These oceans I would voyage,
accept what was shown to me,
till I knew I had found
what I was looking for,
that which my eyes alone would ever see.



Embarkations the wind remembers
that blows against the harbour wall.
I am waiting for my true love,
but I cannot hear her call.
My memories are wave lashed,
my mariner days are done,
but still, I can see her,
her dark hair settled on her shawl.

A green parrot in a reed cage,
I brought back from south ocean islands
as a souvenir, a memento of my voyages,
with a sack of seed,
the wild jungle bird to feed.

I was to give it to my true love,
but they told me she had moved on,
gone to another shipping town,
further up the coast,
and she had wed a shepherd man.
So when I stumbled into my old tavern,
the landlord looked shocked at me,
thought I was a sailor ghost.
After all the waiting years,
my eyes red sore with tears were wet.
I gave to him the parrot,
told him to keep him as a pet.
So the locals feed him,
when they come in for a drink.
I sit and smile in my corner,
on fair memories I think.
I still wait for my true love
by the wave wet harbour wall.
I did not blame her to find another,
I was too far to hear her call.

Embarkations, elegies, exiles,
rumours never proven,
waves lash the harbour wall,
listen to the wind blow them,
the tales the sea has woven.

Do I tune into memories
or invent what I imagine?
Only the wind knows,
the waves that heave,
high vault the harbour wall.
The woman on the shore,
close to the wave fall,
the shell pools behind her,
if she turned her hooded head,
would she be pale with waiting
or smiling, to hear my call?

Leave takings, valedictions,
final parting pain.
Listen, you can still hear them
in the dry wind and the rain.

I’ll go walking with my true love
round the lanes of my sea shore town,
to see the ferries to the islands,
the old towers tumbled down,
and I’ll turn to see her smiling,
in her dress of autumn brown,
and she’ll tell me her story
round the lanes of my sea shore town.

The Hermit and the Mermaid

                                The Hermit and the Mermaid

On an island rain kept wet and green
as a hermit lived he unseen,
until a mermaid flopped on the shore,
dropped to his knees, felt dazed, unsure.

Sat on a rock, among splashing foam,
brushed her hair with a coral comb.
“Hello, hairy hermit man,” she said.
“The waves up surge, the fish are fed.

“Now a rainbow in the sky is seen,
count the colours, red, blue and green.
Say no one should have a broken heart,
build a bridge, feel it fall apart.”

The hermit agreed, told her his truth.
He was a sailor in his youth,
till he floundered, ship wrecked on the shore,
watched the crabs at the seaweed gnaw.

“I feel on the mend so I must have been broken,
feel free of dream so I must have woken.
Why do I see you?” he asked her plain.
“What I have lost can I regain?”

She ceased her comb, turned and smiled at him,
swam off slow to the ocean brim.
The sun sploshed down like a purple plum.
He searched some more for salvaged rum.