A Pirate's Life

Written for National "Talk Like a Pirate Day" (9/19)

All of his life, he had heard the tales
Stories of his father at sea,
Songs of a life where wind filled the sails,
And every breath was free.

They first met when he was five
And the boy could not believe his eyes.
He had never seen a creature so very much alive
With a shadow that filled the skies.

A ropy black beard and eyes that blazed
Anchored his face under a tricorn hat,
The giant told stories that thrilled and amazed
Of mermaids, treasure and sea combat.

He left soon after, to sail the seven seas,
And the boy watched the horizon for sign.
He tasted salt air on every breeze,
The sailor returned when the boy was nine.

He brought pineapples, pearls, and other treasures,
Gifts for both the mother and his child.
He told the boy of navigation and maritime pleasures,
Of living life on the sea free and wild.

In no time at all he was gone once more,
And the boy wished to sail off as well.
He dreamed of sailing, fighting, yearned to explore,
He vowed one day to bid the land farewell.

The boy learned the crafts needed by a sailor
He studied the stars, tied knots and learned to fight.
At eleven he signed on as deck boy on a whaler,
His future as a seaman looked bright.

Although he was green his first week on the waves,
He toughened into a salt right and true.
He tended cannon, cleaned decks, and dug sandy graves,
Sent home drawings of wild kangaroo.

By fourteen, he was a man, a sailor like his dad,
Proud of the things he had done.
When his father came home the boy was doubly glad,
Sure he would proud of his sea-faring son.

The clap round his ears hurt less than the tears
That his father shed when learning the truth.
He had wanted more for his son than a handful of years,
Of a life both coarse and uncouth.

He had wanted his boy to live among books
To learn a trade both honored and true.
For he had known the long sideways looks
From folks who worried what he might do.

He had killed, plundered, and stolen a bit,
He had done things he would wish on no other.
His life, while free, was base he’d admit
The boy’s innocence he knew it would smother.

The boy was a boy no more, he was now a man,
And his choice was made, his father’s son he would be.
His life on the sea at this point began,
He would sail, fight and plunder, he’d be free

The years passed as they will and the sailor grew hard
Freedom came at a rather steep cost.
When his own son met him – wizened and scarred,
He swore the boy’s purity would never be lost.

He told him no tales, sang no songs of the sea,
Spoke only of doctors, books and such things.
And as he kissed his boy goodbye, nevermore to see,
He knew the lad destined to walk with kings.

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