The Captain

bearded and gaunt,
Backs broken and hands knotted
They bend with a southerly squall
blowing in over the sea wall.

Pipes glow grey ash and red cinder
scent of aromatic plug cut
and hot rose briar
all blowing away to blustery sky.

Two wear peaked caps,
the other, a poorer seaman
wears a bright yellow
oilskin sou’wester.

The captain talks,
the other peaked cap listens,
the sou’wester doesn’t
give a damn about either of them.

He doesn’t talk or listen,
he sits and looks out towards
the islands and the breakers
his eyes see shapes

Memory completes the
picture.
Land and seascape,
Burned deep in to his retina

He tries but fails to remember
His wife’s face
The number on his own door
the feel of feet on rain slicked deck.

The sea and the call of depths
is all that he can pinpoint,
his compass to other purposes
is skewed and unreliable

The sea hammers itself to death,
on flowing tide and blowing wind
whitecaps ruffled and riven
to peaks of white foam.

The omens of death,
sun in a crow’s nest,
a haze of white
around the watery orb.

The lay of grass,
spume across the headland.
The storm sucking the energy
from the shore,

The sou’wester coughs.
and surmises it will drop off when
the ebb comes,
the captain spits, dismissive

he has no use
of idle talk,
common seamen
or ill found optimism

    -Dave Kavanagh

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