When I was a boy on boats, and my father,
Legs polio paralyzed, like a monkey swung
Agile at sea with line, rigging and rung
But lurched clumsy on land,
Swung hips, not knees, to move or to stand -
Then at 10 I had my own sailboat, a Rhodes 18,
Roamed bays and islands, round and between -
No bookwork, ícause sailing the schooling I rather.
So when Hurricane Betsy came,
Worst blow in a generation,
First bad one with a name,
I ainít want my boat drag her anchor,
Wreck on the rocks, so I make onboard my station.
And I ride out Betsy, no worries, no rancor.
Betsy come and the eye pass over and
The hurricane parties began.
But I was just 10, so I just stay afloat.
I there when Betsy stalled, came back round.
When the waves rolled through the town,
The last police climbed out the window, was washed
Up on the supermarket steps - lucky not to drown.
In the town so many homes lost
That a next part get built, Betsy Village.
I ain feared of the sea ever since, nor its violence nor
I feared then, but I ride it out on my 18-foot boat.
And when my folks passed, gone with lives full and proud,
How would I make my life, but at sea?
Not (yet) a sea-dog, just a pup, a whelp...
But my marina, my boats, my crews, all my crowd,
Winning races at the Georgetown Regatta,
And running supplies in after a blow,
And there if anyone needed help,
Because, just, you gotta.
And there if a boat or small plane was lost,
Was abandoned, and salvage allowed.
O donít ask what parcels and bales were found
Washed up on reef and small cay,
Onto the 4,000 rocks and small islands tossed
In their 100,000 square miles of sea.
The police ainít always there on the ground.
But I there, I have done, I have seen both heaven and hell,
But I have no stories Iíll tell.
Just that money was good, and the sea has been gold,
And never again have I fear the sea, for I bold,
Since I ride out Betsy back when I just 10 years old.
There are three worlds in ours - the land,
the sea, the town.
The land you live on, farm and hunt:
the Earth, our ground.
The sea you fish, use best by boat,
in, on, around.
The city sublimates all life -
hunt, farm and fish -
in steel and stone:
be one of millions, be alone...
paper to represent the realÖ
the Cloud, the Web, a state of dream
replacing things with things that seem,
replacing dream with dream of dream,
ground down by grinding, rounding down,
staged actions not reality,
a richness of the mind, not soul,
with thorough thought, but not the whole;
and longing to escape, to flee
to country and to sea.
And in these worlds I live as crab -
not the land crab that you catch,
put in the pot, stuffed crab, crab and rice -
not the sea crab that you catch,
take one claw and throw him back -
but the grey crab on the rocks
in and out the tides and waves,
of no value, always there -
or like a ghost crab in the sand,
digging down to find the sea
leaving tracks across the beach,
when you look I disappear -
sideways crabs that live at tidelines,
touch the salt sea and the land,
simple, worthless, leaving tracks
till one day be food for gulls.
Lizard and Mosquito
Mosquito bite yuman,
Now e full a blood.
Lizard eat mosquito
Say, man dis is good.
Lizard help hatch mosquito,
Raise dem up good.
Send dem out like good daddy
Fe go find yuman blood.
Mosquito so happy
Dem eat plenty blood.
Lizard so happy
Dem mosquito taste good.
Politician like dis:
Yu clap an yu sing,
Yu eleck im an den
E tax yu ting an ting.
If you have any thoughts on these poems, Robin Helweg-Larsen
would be pleased to hear them.