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Thread: Late Salutes - a poem

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    Default Late Salutes - a poem

    Found among my file of early poems. I don't attempt much verse these days. I must see what else is hiding in there.


    Late Salutes to Fellow Seafarers

    (after the the style of Korean poet, Kwang Kyu Kim)

    They all knew pain - needed kindness:

    The grizzled skipper - not the butterfly,
    but the sea captain who accidentally chucked
    his false teeth over the side wrapped up
    with his apple peelings.

    Even that burly Scouse engineer who,
    just for a laugh, picked up my lightweight body
    and held it over the side so that
    the Red Sea sharks could salivate under me.

    The pompous Mersey purser,
    with his starched, knife-edged
    shorts - careful curls and dignity.
    We called him ‘The Duke of Bootle‘.

    That alcoholic from Carlisle -
    he went mad when the beer ran out -
    insulted the Dutch carpenter so much
    the man went into a rage and tried
    to chop down his locked door with a fire axe.

    The drunken, failed master of a cable-layer,
    demoted to command of a collier out of the Tyne;
    alternately Christian evangelist and thief
    of my beer - then remorseful again after filling
    our little coal boat with Plymouth prostitutes.

    The raw-boned, red-haired senior apprentice
    who goaded me so much that I invited him
    to fight me on the boat deck. I stood there,
    at the appointed hour, quaking,
    but, mercifully, he failed to appear.
    Mind you - he did come from Darlington.

    That barman I punched in a Capetown drinking house
    and the two heavy Boers who subsequently
    felled me and threw me down the stairs.

    The huge Polish engineer, who -
    in the Buzz Bomb bar in Antwerp,
    did his party trick: twenty-one pickled eggs
    washed down by twenty-one glasses of lager.
    Then, declaring his undying friendship for us,
    his shipmates, lifted us one by one off our feet
    and kissed us on the lips, after which
    he turned to the rest of the bar and offered
    to fight anyone who insulted his friends.

    His fellow Pole -
    the younger and deeply serious one,
    who missed his homeland
    and began to weep when some wag
    asked him to sing the Polonaise.

    The grey and sad manager of the Marconi office
    in East Ham, who I raised my voice to
    when he suggested I carry back to the ship
    a five-gallon carboy of distilled water -
    on the bus.

    The American in New Orleans who,
    when I gave up my seat at the milk bar
    to his wife, invited me to Christmas dinner.
    But we sailed that night.

    The little blind lady I helped across
    New Orleans main street, who said:
    ‘last week I was helped across
    by the son of the Emperor Haile Selassie.’

    The Anglo-Indian wireless operator -
    close to retirement -
    of the SS Minocher Cowasjee
    who I signalled: ‘We will come when we can,’
    as his ship foundered with all hands
    eighty miles away in a cyclone.

    Those three Japanese women, one mature
    and the others young, into whose care
    I was delivered by my shipmates
    so that I might gain experience.

    The old Asian seaman who always carried
    plenty of small change ashore, and from whom
    I learned to be more kindly to beggars.


    Harry Nicholson 2008
    Harry Nicholson

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    Default Re: Late Salutes - a poem

    Harry think most seamen could relate to at the very least one incident covered in your well written repertoire , can’t even find a spelling mistake. Must have taken many hours of lying back just thinking of life in general . Cheers JS
    R575129

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    Default Re: Late Salutes - a poem

    A few things sure do remind me of things that happened so long ago!

    One in particular is the Boer one mentioned, however mine was related to a fight outside the Cape Town Station Ticki Hoc Bar. After quite a malee the Boere arrived, subdued me and physically lifted and threw me head first into a Black Maria, with such force that all i recall for a short while was white lights in my Head!

    But thankfully after some quick talking at the Police Station, i was released to get back to the Ship! I was saved by the fact that i had my Seamans ID Card handy!
    But sore and bruised i must add!
    Ah! the joys of being young! Like Hell! LOL
    Senior Site Moderator-Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: Late Salutes - a poem

    The one about the deliverance into the care of three Japanese women was a third of the way correct , as was only one at the ripe old age of 16 , although Cappy may lay claim to , this one was called Sadjico , and although just about 70 years ago can still remember. However her heart was elsewhere and she could only talk about her Swiss boyfriend who she said was a musician , funny enough I met a Chinese girl in Hong Kong years later who said similar . I strongly suspect it was some seafarer with an overactive imagination . I would of called him a fiddler on a hot tin roof . JS

    PS Still waiting to be traumatised to see who I can sue. JS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 18th October 2022 at 03:02 AM.
    R575129

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    Default Re: Late Salutes - a poem

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Nicholson View Post
    Found among my file of early poems. I don't attempt much verse these days. I must see what else is hiding in there.




    Harry Nicholson 2008
    That is so easy to understand.....that is all so true .....to things and happenings of my time at sea......an intense writing of a time now long gone .....so good to read ....respects....R683532
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 15th November 2022 at 08:20 PM.

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    Default Re: Late Salutes - a poem

    It is an honest man who bares his soul to those who would understand. Thankyou. Roger.

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    Default Re: Late Salutes - a poem

    The eBook of my anthology ‘Wandering About’ is free to download on Amazon, 15th to 20th November 2022. It includes some sea poems. Please help yourself.

    This from a review of last year:

    Here is a poet with working-class origins who writes of his native North-East England as well as further-flung places with love and deeply-felt knowledge. Vignettes of ship riveters, soldiers, fishermen’s wives and ‘handy-women’ vie with tales of saints, Saxons, Celts and ancient man. There are terrifying and poignant sea stories. Many of the poems are clearly rooted in the poet’s own family history and personal memories. Flora and fauna inhabit the book in living detail, and several poems travel through layer on layer of geological time, with ecology a clear concern. These are themes of the hands as well as the brain, with an invigorating effect.

    By Dafydd - from his review of Harry Nicholson's ‘Wandering About’ in the arts magazine, ‘Urthona’.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00RXM3UFU

    and Amazons elsewhere.
    Harry Nicholson

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