The Old Sailor's Lament
Old Sailors sit and chew the fat,
‘bout how things used to be.
Of the things they've seen and the places they've been,
when they ventured out to sea.
They remember their friends, from so long ago,
and the times they had back then.
Of the money they've spilled and the beer they swilled,
in their days as sailing men.
Their lives are lived in days gone by,
with thoughts that forever last,
Of salty cocked hats and bell-bottom blues,
and good times they had in the past.
They recall long nights with a moon so bright,
far out on a lonely sea.
Of the thoughts they had, as youthful lads,
when life was unbridled and free.
They know so well, how their hearts did swell,
when the flag fluttered..., proud and free.
How the stars and stripes made such a beautiful sight,
as they slipped through the night...quietly.
They'd talk of the bread ole ‘Cookie’ would bake,
and the trill of the bosun's pipe.
How the salt spray slapped, at the masts and the decks,
in waltzing shadows,....under heaven’s moonlight.
They remember their mates, many long gone,
who forever hold a spot close at heart.
And too, of the good times young men shared together,
in a bond they knew never would part.
. They rode their ships through many a storm,
and spat in ole Neptune’s eye!
They challenged his anger and cursed at the sea
and sailed on..., never wondering why.
When the sea rages up, shakes it’s fist at the sky
in a battle ‘tween Heaven ‘n Hell.
Then softly relents,... is calm and content,
then nudges so gently the ship’s bell.
Now see sailors four,
within sight of the shore,
recalling fond memories of yore.
For lusty maidens they yearned,
three or four at a turn,
and a brief respite from the sea.
Then a buxom young wench, leapt over the bench
and into my arms she did fall.
A sign from the heavens, the hour’s eleven,
“Dear missy..Come closer..”, I called!
Now sailing days of long ago
will never more cross their bow.
Yet they have no regrets
for they know they've been blessed,
they’ve honored their most sacred of vows.
Though days of yore are to be no more,
and time chips away memories.
It’s a notable fact that old sailors just lack
Youth.....to tug,..once again, at their sleeve.
To rise up once more, he spits on the floor, and...
growls....”It’s back to a sea life for me”.
If I could, once more, just come ashore
and recruit again the old crew.
There’s Mulligan, Brownley, now Foster
and under the table.... McHugh.
Lookin’ quite comfy there,
a bit o’ weed in his hair,
he caresses his last bubbly brew.
From the bar comes a shriek,
one that ‘ould chill ya,
and wonder of wonders doth appear.
Tis Able Seaman Bill Hilliard
with a water rat latched on to ‘is ear.
Now here’s a door, from behind which...
a voice yells .. “Get out you b..b.. bitch”
“You bi..bi.. big fat, overweight whore!”.
Lordy! it’s a voice that I reckon,
I heard oft times beckon,
“C’mon lads...We’re ga...ga... goin’ ashore!”
Well, Stammerin’ Sammy is a sight to behold.
A dishevelled mess is he.
With his britches half off
this stammerin’ jack-off,
is more than ready for sea.
With my ‘mates gathered ‘bout me....
pitiful though they be,
the sea winks me it’s best teasing glance.
A siren song's last chance
to turn back the clock perchance
if dame fate would just listen to me.
Take me back through the years,
and I’d surely hasten
to really stop chasin’
all of these old memories.
For memories grow dimmer
and the shadows do lengthen
when one travels backwards in time.
Hard as one tries
what is past is goodbye
and so I reluctantly relent...
Dry-eyed and sober
reflecting on days that were well spent.
Yes this! Is the Old Sailor’s Lament.
Though their numbers grow less
with each passing day,
and their chits of life they’ve cashed in.
They've nothing to lose,
they've all paid their dues,
and we’ll make muster together again.
I've heard them say, as we’d get underway,
that we’ve still got some sailing to do.
For it’s a soft silver sky embracing the blue and
the Lord,...in command of the crew.
Adapted and modified from an original work by Bob Mahon & Bob Weiss.
Original poem by Larry "Dreamcatcher" Dunn dtd 6/4/2001 and titled Old Sailors.
It may be viewed here http://iwvpa.net/dunnll/old_sail.htm
by John Masefield
I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
All I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
Of Nineteen and Forty-Two
Come gather round me lads and I'll tell you a thing or two;
About the way we ran the Navy in nineteen forty two.
When wooden ships and iron men were barely out of sight;
I am going to give you some facts just to set the record right.
We wore the ole bell bottoms, with a flat hat on our head;
Always hit the sack at night and never "went to bed."
Our uniforms were worn ashore and we were mighty proud;
Never thought of wearing civvies, in fact they were never allowed.
Now when a ship puts out to sea I'll tell you son it hurts;
When suddenly you notice that half the crew is wearing skirts.
And it's hard for me to imagine, a female boatswains mate;
Stopping on the Quarter deck to make sure her stockings are straight.
What happened to the KiYi brush, and the old salt-water bath;
Holy stoning decks at night cause you stirred old Bosn's wrath!
We always had our gedunk stand and lots of pogey bait;
And it always took a hitch or two ,just to make a rate.
In your seabag all your skivvies, were neatly stopped and rolled;
And the blankets on your sack had better have a three-inch fold.
Your little ditty bag, it is hard to believe just how much it held;
You wouldn't go ashore with pants that hadn't been spiked and bellied.
We had scullery maids and succotash and good old SOS;
And when you felt like topping off, you headed for the mess.
Oh we had our belly robbers but there weren't too many gripes;
For the deck apes were never hungry and there were no starving snipes.
Now you never hear of Dave Jones, Shellbacks Or Polliwogs;
And you never splice the mainbrace to receive your daily grog.
Now you never have to dog a watch or stand the main vent;
You even tie your lines today, back in my time they were bent.
We were all two-fisted drinkers and no one thought you sinned;
If you staggered back aboard your ship, three sheets to the wind.
And with just a couple hours of sleep you regained your usual luster;
Bright eyed and bushy tailed- you still made morning muster.
Rocks and shoals have long since gone, and now it's UCMJ;
Then the old man handled every thing if you should go astray.
Now they steer the ships with dials, and I wouldn't be surprised;
If some day they sailed the damned things from the beach computerized.
So when my earthly hitch is over, and the good Lord picks the best;
I'll walk right up to HIM and say, "Sir, I have but one request.
Let me sail the seas of Heaven in a coat of Navy blue;
Like I did so long ago on earth way back in nineteen-forty-two.
(author unknown - contributed by shipmate Henri 'Hank' Baxter)