Poem: H.M.S. Overly Verbose

So, it’s another poem, instead of that whole short story thing I promised. Trouble is, the short story just won’t stay short. Maybe this will give you some idea of what I’m talking about.

It is, of course, the longest poem I’ve ever written.

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H.M.S. Overly Verbose

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It’s less than true to say I’m schooled in ship-building, I know;

But there are ports I’d like to show you. So here goes.

First we pick our starting point–or in my case,

Don’t. Begin at the beginning with our metal, cloth and wood,

Strewn all over; one titanium beam for the base,

is gilt with copper for a glowing finish. If I could,

I’d shove a pole of iron all the way throughout its core;

To prove I work in layers. But I’ll restrain myself.

(don’t get too comfortable; you can be assured–

this ship will prove most hazardous to your health!)

The hull we’ll build with tungsten plate glued on to tungsten plate;

I’m sure it will suffice for this creation.

Until we have to patch the ensuing leaks–but wait:

Try not to overwrite the decoration.

Fine flowers; stencilled, cut and blowtorched on to link

One mismatched bit of steel to fine ceramics.

And if, by chance, en route to this my Frankenstein ship sinks,

You’ll be too mesmerised by it to panic.

We’ll make the deck five miles long, so to incorporate;

Every bit of timber jigsaw we can find.

And fit them all together with smooth marble counterweight,

To fill the gaps between oak, maple, ash and pine.

And cherry, silver birch and lime–the best of woods for carving,

So I’ve heard: so that one’s for the figures.

(all nine thousand) with live trees too to stop us starving,

if it doesn’t work we’ll have to build it bigger.

A cathedral of the sea, although we’ll invert the fan vaulting;

Add some buttresses and blow them out of glass.

The angel-demon-griffins on that edge will prove most halting,

Should our questionable voyage come to pass.

Now for the masts; we’ll weld a million lightning rods together,

For the first, and next a million spears.

And if you fear the rest will attract equally bad weather–

Don’t worry. It won’t be done for years.

I want to build a ship that has a piece for all occasions,

And force it out into uncharted slaughter;

Decked with anything that’s caught my eye: the magpie consecration,

My pretty fish to blow out of the water;

With the super-laser-cannons I have armed with brazen swords

I brought to gun fights (true, to some exasperation)

And moon-rock enjoined catapults to face oncoming hordes,

Of better-made ships bound for devastation.

To keep the sails working in the face of this onslaught;

I suggest we take what we’ve already got,

And weave it through with spider’s silk; admire what we’ve wrought,

And fly them every time we have the shot.

But one restraint I’ll put here before people get excited;

That silk and sack, that satin suede and skin–

Will bear no message sewn on them until we’ve all alighted,

Or else I’ll have to sink it for its sins.

I guess we’ll have a colour-scheme: for I’ll not have a rainbow,

Spoil the twilight horizon with bad taste.

But we’ll embroider every metaphor with silver, like a halo;

always one more adjective to stall our haste.

And let’s erect a tower with a turret at the helm;

Like the writer in the berth that’s next to mine.

It’s not a rip-off; mine is knitted, hers is made of elm,

Homages honour these ships ‘of the line’.

And wool from every corner of the world will make the cables;

Even if exceeding three will weigh it down.

We’ll change it later if we have to. First–we’ll draw on Aesop’s fables,

One more homage won’t run us into ground.

As for the ridiculous amount of decks below;

Eventually there’ll be some theme in their style.

I swear the trip will go too fast, even if the ship is slow,

And stern to bow can be measured in miles.

I realise it’s not the ideal vessel for the task;

The monstrosity upon the wine-dark sea.

But skill in this and every art can only come to pass,

With time. (yes, that’s an allegory).

There are so many islands that I want to take you to,

That cannot wait. So while some might use a raft,

I’ll throw everything I know together; conjure up a crew

Of characters who’ll help us in this craft.

So the ship is both built and edited as we go;

Which of my many tales would you know?

H. M. S. Overly Verbose

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