Sea Leaver

I must get back to the land again, the realm of fields and sheep,
And shun this heaving nightmare, the so-called rolling deep.
Why did I move from Ledbury, near Langland's Malvern Hills,
Where I walked out and whistled, not puked and took pink pills?

I must go up on the deck again, to those slime-encrusted planks
And the boat's roll and the bosun's role? No sanguinary thanks!
I must stay away from the sea for good, as it only makes me vomit
And leaves my head in a ghastly state so I can't tell cleat from grommet.

The way out? Not the marlinspike, but certainly the pen
And salty reminiscences (with omissions now and then
Like the nausea, almost constant, lads' unsavory shore-leave morals)
Pave the path to published glory, sherry butts, and royal laurels.

by Jerome Betts

Sea Heaver

I must bend over the side again and spew out a meal or three.
The sea goes on giving this ghastly gift, and I give it back to the sea.
And all I ask is a steady deck, so my skin doesn't prickle and pale,
And no queasy lurch undoes my gut and drapes me over the rail.

I must escape this clammy despair that has touched every pore with its kiss.
As dry heaves wrack me, I gag and gasp that death would be better than this.
And all I ask is a patch of scop to stick on the side of my neck
So the swells that judder the ship don't drive me to pray for a fatal wreck.

I must stay home from the sea next time, to spare me this hellish ordeal.
I couldn't feel worse if Captain Bligh were hauling me under the keel.
And all I ask is a Muse that doesn't steer me back to the ocean
And make me sick all over again with its churning, choppy motion.

by Chris O'Carroll

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Jerome Betts edits Lighten Up Online, the quarterly verse webzine (www.lightenup-online.co.uk) from his Devon (England) fastness or slowness, near, but never on, the sea, and contributes to Light, Snakeskin, The Asses of Parnassus, and other repositories of wit and mirth.

Chris O'Carroll is a Light featured poet and a contributor to The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology and 20 Years at the Cantab Lounge. His poems have appeared in Barefoot Muse, Bumbershoot, Iambs & Trochees, Shot Glass, Snakeskin, Thunder Sandwich, Tilt-a-Whirl, and Unsplendid (no kidding, those are real poetry journal names).