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FRESH FROM THE INKWELL

THE BALLAD OF CAPTAIN JACK SCURVY

Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum!
Last month's assignment for Prairie Writers, from the Writer Igniter website.
Character: sea captain
Problem: must make a sacrifice
Setting: railroad track
Prop: a velvet curtain

THE BALLAD OF CAPTAIN JACK SCURVY

Captain Jack set sail one morn, in a stiff nor’ westerly breeze,
Aboard Miss Jane, the finest ship to travel the seven seas.
Her crew was rough, but skillful; they could steer by sun and stars.
Jack’s only fear, apart from storms, was the lure of girls and bars.
This trip might prove his bravest quest, to find the hoard of gold
He’d heard about from sailors’ tales and a map he kept in the hold.
They set a course for Rintanzu, the isles where the treasure lay.
The first leg took a fortnight; they anchored in Jellicoe Bay.
The bo’sun checked the rigging; then he said to Captain Jack,
“Let’s row ashore, quench our thirst at Ben’s Inn by the railway track.”
All agreed they’d earned a hearty meal and good night’s rest;
Before Jack left Miss Jane, he slipped a scroll inside his vest.
He did not care for whisky; of women he’d had his fill,
But sounds behind a velvet curtain stirred a familiar thrill.
He saw the cards, the kitty, and a welcoming nod from Ben.
Jack’s heart raced as he jingled his coins and entered the gamblers’ den.
He parted with gilders and ducats; he lost his shillings and pence.
Instead of quitting while he could, Jack tossed in all his cents.
Another loss; what next to risk? His silver watch and chain?
The hidden scroll? He stalled; he heard the whistle of a train.
The landlord scratched his whiskers, and at last poor Jacky twigged:
Ben ran a shady business here, and every deal was rigged.
“A jolly game, lads,” Jacky said, “but more than I can afford.
Whoever wins this hand will get the chance to find a hoard.”
The players grabbed the map and traced the X that marked the spot.
“That’ll cover me debts!” called Jack, escaping to his yacht.
His loyal shipmates followed, but without their usual zest.
Querying his sanity, they thought they’d lost the quest.
“Rintanzu!” cried Captain Jack. “We’re off to dig for gold.
Forget about Ben’s Inn, me boys. The real map’s in the hold.”

© Hazel Spire
7.21.13 Read More 
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A LITERARY CRUISE

Like my father before me, I enjoy reading and writing parodies! This one is based on Tennyson's poem "Ulysses" which I memorized in high school. Keeping the meter and structure of the original, I adapted its theme to a world lit class I took in Texas.

A LITERARY CRUISE
with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It little profits that a student mom,
By this hot stove, amid these scattered toys,
I dole out Popsicles to neighbor kids.
I cannot rest from reading. I devour
Words like a worm. All time I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
Who studied English with me and alone.
When Emma strolled through Rouen with her love,
Or Ivan lay cold in his coffin, I
Was there; with Wordsworth I beheld the Lakes;
I cried as Matryona's home broke up.
For always reading with a hungry heart,
Much have I seen and known, much tragedy
In Greece, Japan, Algeria, and France,
From Gretchen's dungeon dark to Room Nineteen.
Still in those titles yet unread there gleams
A promise of untravel'd realms ahead.
How dull it is to pause or make a C.
To know we could do better with more time!
Our sight grows dim, but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note may yet be read.
There lies the book, the Norton Anthology,
With Van Gogh's face imploring. Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to turn another page;
Peruse the text, and do not fear to state
Your true opinions; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the syllabus, and read
The whole anthology before I die.
It may be that the themes will tax our brains.
It may be that we must repeat the course
Back here with Dr. Perkus, whom we knew.
Though much is tested, much abides, and though
We are not now so fresh and starry-eyed,
Our lives are richer for this literature.
And so we shall read on, but summer's here.
The pool looks cool; I'm cutting class; goodbye!

.............................................................................................
© Hazel Spire
Published in Homeward Tracks, Dallas 2004. Read More 
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