March 15th, 2009

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Poem: "Palimpsest"

This poem came from the March 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from arielstarshadow and selected for publication in the generally sponsored poetry poll. This month's sponsors are: ellenmillion, dakiwiboid, dulcinbradbury, minor_architect, ladyqkat, and janetmiles.

Historically, a palimpsest is a piece of parchment or papyrus that has been treated to remove earlier writing, then reused. It sometimes refers to a city or building established atop prior ruins. This latter informal usage may have inspired the novel Palimpsest, which was the source of the prompt.


Palimpsest


Once there was a city
that grew as a pearl grows,
from a small grain to a great orb
pale and whole as the moon, coat
laid over shining, shimmering coats.

Once there was a city
that knew itself as a book knows,
each page perfect and pressed between
other pages, all wisdom hidden until opened.

Once there was a city
that was peeled like an onion,
dry skin revealing sharp white flesh,
until at last, in the very center, a green shoot
thrust forth to sprout through the heart of the explorer.
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Poem: "Vandervecken's Fleet"

This poem came from the March 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from arielstarshadow and dulcinbradbury. Readers selected it for publication in the generally sponsored poetry poll. This month's sponsors are: ellenmillion, dakiwiboid, dulcinbradbury, minor_architect, ladyqkat, and janetmiles.

Ghost ships are real, at least in the sense that ships are sometimes found drifting or wrecked without a crew and no provable explanation as to what happened. You can read about the Dutchman, the Mary Celeste, the Caroll A. Deering, and the Jian Seng online.


Vandervecken’s Fleet


The oceans are home to ships of the world
That ride on the currents, storm-tossed and whirled,
And everyone on them has heard the tales
Of ghost ships adrift with shroud-tattered sails.

The Dutchman was ancient, the captain too,
But Vandervecken took no fools as crew.
He only took those with love for the sea
And some say they’re damned, but they say they’re free.

The Mary Celeste had family aboard
And plenty of food and water were stored
But drifting she came, beneath a calm sky,
Bereft of her crew, and no one knows why.

The Carroll A. Deering was built in Maine
And wrecked off Cape Hatteras in the rain.
Pirates or mutiny? Weather or raid?
More questions than answers fill that parade.

The Jian Seng was spotted off Queensland’s coast,
Its hold full of rice, but no crew or host,
Its name painted over, its purpose gone
But the ship itself left to muddle on.

Legends of ghost ships are old as the seas,
Riding out hurricanes just like a breeze,
St. Elmo’s fire highlighting their spars,
Their black ragged sails revealing the stars.

There are some places where all such ships meet,
Those that belong to Vandervecken’s fleet –
They’ve docked in the harbors of Hy-Brasil;
They’ve stopped by Atlantis and drunk their fill.

Now some say they’re cursed, and some say they’re blessed,
But all tales agree that they cannot rest –
And why would they want to? Look what they’ve got,
Sailing the seas from spot to secret spot.

These are the ghost ships, their captains and crews
No longer affected by landbound news.
You may scuttle those you see, but you’ll find
Their fey hulls reformed to sail off behind.