The Steamer

Rating: 3.5

We picked up a coal-fired steamer
From a graveyard of ancient ships,
It had lain, beached up in the Philippines,
Sat on the rusted slips,
The ship was covered in surface rust
But it hadn't gone right through,
So with elbow grease and some paint at least
My friend said, ‘It will do.'

We registered it in Colombia,
And we flew the Colombian flag,
We couldn't afford to insure it,
And Derek said, ‘That's a drag.
But we only need a single trip
And a cargo in the hold,
Like tractor tyres and some copper wires,
We'll be rich when they are sold.'

He brought his girlfriend, Mary Anne,
Which I thought was a mistake,
He said that she'd come in handy when
We had to cook and bake.
‘I hope that she's not bad luck for us, '
I muttered, when she came,
‘You mean those superstitious tales
That a woman is to blame? '

The bosun hired was a Robert Legg
Who had been at sea for years,
We didn't know, as the trip would show,
He'd bring my friend to tears.
He helped to paint the rusted hull
In just one colour, black,
But leered when Mary Anne appeared
And behind Derek's back.

We hired a couple of Lascars
To shovel in the coal,
Then ventured out for a cargo,
And ended up in Seoul,
We picked up a dodgy cargo,
Enough to make a run,
Over to western Africa
With computers, and with guns.

We named the ship the ‘Avant Garde'
And we braved the ocean swell,
It rolled and creaked, and even leaked
Like the cargo ship from hell,
But Derek's mood was grim and dour
As we fought to hold the wheel,
‘Let's hope that it doesn't fall apart,
There's a buckle in the keel.'

We spent our time up on the bridge
With Mary Anne below,
It doesn't take a genius
To know how that would go.
For Legg spent too much time down there
Ensconced with Mary Anne,
When Derek questioned her, she said,
‘The bosun's quite the man.'

He sent Legg down to the engine room
And he said to keep his place,
He wasn't there for a holiday
Or to chat up a friendly face.
But Legg was sour, and Derek dour
When he caught them down below,
And said Legg's hand was in contraband
Where he knew it shouldn't go.

The Avant Garde had then burst a seam
Just above the waterline,
The water had started slopping in
We knew we were short on time,
By then Legg quarrelled with Derek, said
His girl was a free for all,
Was there to satisfy base desires,
Derek pinned him against the wall.

He hit the bosun across the head
With a long steel marlin spike,
Who fell at once and was good and dead,
I was told to take a hike.
I think he carted the body down
To the lascars down below,
Who bundled him into the furnace there,
No corpse, so who's to know?

He told me later he'd fixed the leak
But he didn't tell me how,
The ship then shuddered against a rock
That bent and burst the prow,
Before it sank I went down below
To witness a nightmare scene,
The body of Mary Anne was jammed
In tight, where it burst the seam.

16 August 2017