gershon hepner

Rookie - 10 Points (5 3 38 / leipzig)

Black Freighter - Poem by gershon hepner

You can hear a faint foghorn that blows far away
from a ship, a black freighter. It’s sailing to port,
with a skull on its masthead. “She’ll have hell to pay, ”
cry landlubbers who hear it, “We’ll take her to court! ”

The ship’s in the harbor now, shooting her guns,
destroying all buildings except one motel
from which a young floozie emerges and runs,
and everyone wonders what saved her from hell.

And the ship in the harbor runs from its masthead
a flag, and the sailors look round as they shout
to the paralyzed people who watch them with dread:
“We’re going to kill you, without any doubt! ”

They chain them and tell me to kill them all, “Now and not later! ”
and once I’ve obeyed and the deed has been done,
to the distant horizon I sail on the freighter,
disappearing, and ready to set like the sun.

Inspired by a song, “Pirate Jenny, ” “Seeräuber-Jenny, ” with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht translated by Marc Blitzstein with melody by Kurt Weill

1
You people can watch while I'm scrubbing these floors
And I'm scrubbin' the floors while you're gawking
Maybe once ya tip me and it makes ya feel swell
In this crummy Southern town, in this crummy old hotel
But you'll never guess to who you're talkin'.
No. You couldn't ever guess to who you're talkin'.
Then one night there's a scream in the night
And you'll wonder who could that have been
And you see me kinda grinnin' while I'm scrubbin'
And you say, 'What's she got to grin? '
I'll tell you.

There's a ship, the black freighter
with a skull on its masthead
will be coming in.

2
You gentlemen can say, 'Hey gal, finish them floors!
Get upstairs! What's wrong with you! Earn your keep here!
You toss me your tips
and look out to the ships
But I'm counting your heads
as I'm making the beds
Cuz there's nobody gonna sleep here, honey
Nobody! Nobody!
Then one night there's a scream in the night
And you say, 'Who's that kicking up a row? '
And ya see me kinda starin' out the winda
And you say, 'What's she got to stare at now? '
I'll tell ya.

There's a ship, the black freighter
turns around in the harbor
shootin' guns from her bow

3
Now you gentlemen can wipe that smile off your face
'Cause every building in town is a flat one
This whole frickin' place will be down to the ground
Only this cheap hotel standing up safe and sound
And you yell, 'Why do they spare that one? '
Yes, that's what you say.
'Why do they spare that one? '
All the night through, through the noise and to-do
You wonder who is that person that lives up there?
And you see me stepping out in the morning
Looking nice with a ribbon in my hair.

And the ship, the black freighter
runs a flag up its masthead
and a cheer rings the air

4
By noontime the dock is a-swarmin' with men
comin' out from the ghostly freighter
They move in the shadows where no one can see
And they're chainin' up people and they're bringin' em to me
askin' me, 'Kill them NOW, or LATER? '
Askin' ME! 'Kill them now, or later? '
Noon by the clock
and so still by the dock
You can hear a foghorn miles away
And in that quiet of death
I'll say, 'Right now.
Right now! '
Then they'll pile up the bodies
And I'll say,
'That'll learn ya! '

And the ship, the black freighter
disappears out to sea
And on it is me.


Here are the lyrics in German, exactly as she sings them:

'Seeräuber-Jenny'
Text: Bertolt Brecht
Musik: Kurt Weill

1
Meine Herren, heute sehen Sie mich Gläser abwaschen
Und ich mache das Bett für jeden.
Und Sie geben mir einen Penny und ich bedanke mich schnell
Und Sie sehen meine Lumpen und dies lumpige Hotel
Und Sie wissen nicht, mit wem Sie reden.
Und Sie wissen nicht, mit wem Sie reden.
Aber eines Abends wird ein Geschrei sein am Hafen
Und man fragt: Was ist das für ein Geschrei?
Und man wird mich lächeln sehn bei meinen Gläsern
Und man sagt: Was lächelt die dabei?

Und ein Schiff mit acht Segeln
Und mit fünfzig Kanonen
Wird liegen am Kai.

2
Man sagt: Geh, wisch deine Gläser, mein Kind
Und man reicht mir den Penny hin.
Und der Penny wird genommen, und das Bett wird gemacht!
(Es wird keiner mehr drin schlafen in dieser Nacht.)
Und sie wissen immer noch nicht, wer ich bin.
Und sie wissen immer noch nicht, wer ich bin.
Aber eines Abends wird ein Getös sein am Hafen
Und man fragt: Was ist das für ein Getös?
Und man wird mich stehen sehen hinterm Fenster
Und man sagt: Was lächelt die so bös?

Und das Schiff mit acht Segeln
Und mit fünfzig Kanonen
Wird beschiessen die Stadt.

3
Meine Herren, da wird ihr Lachen aufhören
Denn die Mauern werden fallen hin
Und die Stadt wird gemacht dem Erdboden gleich.
Nur ein lumpiges Hotel wird verschont von dem Streich
Und man fragt: Wer wohnt Besonderer darin?
Und man fragt: Wer wohnt Besonderer darin?
Und in dieser Nacht wird ein Geschrei um das Hotel sein
Und man fragt: Warum wird das Hotel verschont?
Und man wird mich sehen treten aus der Tür am Morgen
Und man sagt: Die hat darin gewohnt?

Und das Schiff mit acht Segeln
Und mit fünfzig Kanonen
Wird beflaggen den Mast.

4
Und es werden kommen hundert gen Mittag an Land
Und werden in den Schatten treten
Und fangen einen jeglichen aus jeglicher Tür
Und legen ihn in Ketten und bringen vor mir
Und fragen: Welchen sollen wir töten?
Und an diesem Mittag wird es still sein am Hafen
Wenn man fragt, wer wohl sterben muss.
Und dann werden Sie mich sagen hören: Alle!
Und wenn dann der Kopf fällt, sag ich: Hoppla!

Und das Schiff mit acht Segeln
Und mit fünfzig Kanonen
Wird entschwinden mit mir.


Inspired by a song, “Pirate Jenny, ” “Seeräuber-Jenny, ” with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht translated by Marc Blitzstein with melody by Kurt Weill

1
You people can watch while I'm scrubbing these floors
And I'm scrubbin' the floors while you're gawking
Maybe once ya tip me and it makes ya feel swell
In this crummy Southern town, in this crummy old hotel
But you'll never guess to who you're talkin'.
No. You couldn't ever guess to who you're talkin'.
Then one night there's a scream in the night
And you'll wonder who could that have been
And you see me kinda grinnin' while I'm scrubbin'
And you say, 'What's she got to grin? '
I'll tell you.

There's a ship, the black freighter
with a skull on its masthead
will be coming in.

2
You gentlemen can say, 'Hey gal, finish them floors!
Get upstairs! What's wrong with you! Earn your keep here!
You toss me your tips
and look out to the ships
But I'm counting your heads
as I'm making the beds
Cuz there's nobody gonna sleep here, honey
Nobody! Nobody!
Then one night there's a scream in the night
And you say, 'Who's that kicking up a row? '
And ya see me kinda starin' out the winda
And you say, 'What's she got to stare at now? '
I'll tell ya.

There's a ship, the black freighter
turns around in the harbor
shootin' guns from her bow

3
Now you gentlemen can wipe that smile off your face
'Cause every building in town is a flat one
This whole frickin' place will be down to the ground
Only this cheap hotel standing up safe and sound
And you yell, 'Why do they spare that one? '
Yes, that's what you say.
'Why do they spare that one? '
All the night through, through the noise and to-do
You wonder who is that person that lives up there?
And you see me stepping out in the morning
Looking nice with a ribbon in my hair.

And the ship, the black freighter
runs a flag up its masthead
and a cheer rings the air

4
By noontime the dock is a-swarmin' with men
comin' out from the ghostly freighter
They move in the shadows where no one can see
And they're chainin' up people and they're bringin' em to me
askin' me, 'Kill them NOW, or LATER? '
Askin' ME! 'Kill them now, or later? '
Noon by the clock
and so still by the dock
You can hear a foghorn miles away
And in that quiet of death
I'll say, 'Right now.
Right now! '
Then they'll pile up the bodies
And I'll say,
'That'll learn ya! '

And the ship, the black freighter
disappears out to sea
And on it is me.



11/7/07


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Poem Edited: Saturday, April 23, 2011


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