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(25 July 1956)

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Cruising 3*

Ships defy the keen Atlantic,
slipping through in armoured skins.
But open wounds rouse hunger pangs
for metal and soft parts within.

An iceberg gouged the 'Prate's' port flank.
The probing sea consumed her frame.
A slice of deck, her mighty stacks
and two abandoned souls remained.

The Captain scanned the starry sky
but Mrs Petty looked distraught.
She glanced around and asked him why
the waves were sheets of bobbing corks.

He told her that the ‘Prate' had freight
including corks from Portugal
and virgin olive oil from Spain.
Such cargo was unsinkable.

Some hessian sacks popped into view
and crates of oil meandered by.
Then all at once the Captain knew
that on that day they might not die.

He battled waves for sacks of corks,
their necks drawn tight with braided string,
and fought the water's whirlpool torque
To reach the dancing oil crate ring.

He tied two crates with his leather belt
and knotted sacks to this device.
Mrs Petty could not help,
but offered plentiful advice.

The Captain hopped aboard the raft
and Mrs Petty clambered on.
The ocean swallowed, belched and laughed
and then the good ship ‘Prate' was gone.

The cork provided insulation
from the cutting cold beneath.
They sipped an olive oil libation-
warmth for blood and chattering teeth.

She asked his name and he dissembled.
Grudgingly, he owned to Bryce.
She said, as far as she remembered,
she'd been christened Edelweiss.

The frigid night was warmly plied
with fine debate and mindless tattle.
Dawn brought their salvation by
the 'Prate's' fair sister ship, the ‘Prattle'.

The Captain saw as they drew near
that Hope stood at the rails above.
She waved and shed a grateful tear
and naturally they fell in love.

The drawing room was holly decked
and smelt of Christmas tree and spice.
The 'Prattle's' Captain wed the pair
and Mrs Petty tossed the rice.

As wedding gift, she gave a doily,
found in her pocket and sadly frayed;
mainly white, but slightly oily,
crocheted on the 'Prate's' last day.

After lunch on Christmas Day,
aboard the sterling steamship ‘Prattle',
Hope and Mrs Petty played
at harmless dice, genteelly rattled.

Submitted: Sunday, December 16, 2012
Edited: Saturday, March 08, 2014


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Comments about this poem ('A Villanelle' by Thaumoctopus Mimicus by Diane Hine )

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  • Kelvin Owusu (12/22/2012 1:42:00 AM)

    I was so entranced by this. Well done!

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  • Owain Glyn (12/20/2012 9:59:00 AM)

    That's it! I'm flying. My younger son is a Ship Broker in the City of London, I'm going to print these off and give them to him at Christmas (copyright reserved, of course.) It'll save me a few shillings and teach him not to take life quite so seriously. Wonderful, just wonderful.

  • Veeraiyah Subbulakshmi (12/20/2012 8:50:00 AM)

    an interesting story gathers all glamorous issues, including Christmas! Nice!

  • Unwritten Soul (12/17/2012 4:17:00 AM)

    This is a very detail and a story poem...weirdly it kinda remind me to Captain Cur~...your writing goes very smooth and easy to flow with reader smiles and understanding...keep it up.. a good story to be shared in poetry form_Soul

  • Thomas A Robinson (12/16/2012 4:38:00 PM)

    I am sure there is more to this story.
    Great poem and fascinating from beginning to end.

  • Red O'mara (12/16/2012 3:32:00 PM)

    Loved it. Hardly implausible at all. And very funny, Bryce and Edelweiss indeed. I could have sworn I detected some palpitations twixt those two. What next, Mrs Petty And The Holy Grail? The Temple of Doom? If only the captain and Hope hadn't got spliced Mrs Petty and the captain could have had a liaison. Perhaps they still could. Bryce and Edelweiss And The Malfunctioning Contraceptive Device? Whatever, but more Mrs Petty, please. But no pressure.

  • Valerie Dohren (12/16/2012 2:24:00 PM)

    Wonderful Diane, a great story, and so well put together.

  • Mark Dillon (12/16/2012 8:44:00 AM)

    wHAT A LOVELY LIGHT HEARETED TALE AND HUMOUROUS, I realy enjoyed it Diane, happy christmas ton you and yours.

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