(9/10/54 / Richland Center, Wisconsin)


I remember back, when young -
the pirate tales from grandpa's tongue -
where peg-legged men with but one eye
sought their treasures, chanced to die.

Captain Pirate had a hook
and he cared not from whom he took.
He boarded ships and stole their goods -
then hid his treasures in the woods.

On the ship - he had some men -
who helped him rob now and again.
At times they partied and they drank. -
If one was rude, he'd walk the plank.

Now this old pirate wasn't fair -
and got so drunk he didn't care.
It didn't matter who he killed -
just so his humor was fulfilled.

A wee bit close, I happened near -
lost both my boots and lost my gear.
They tied me up that very night -
my wrists had hurt, the rope was tight.

One pulled quick, his shiny sword -
then threw me on that weathered board.
The ocean deep, the water black,
the sword I felt, pressed to my back.

I stepped out - again, again,
with nudges felt from earthly sin.
The steps I took were very short
but that old plank gave me support.

I thought quick but took some pause -
reflecting on life's silly laws.
Blinded by life's codes and rules,
I had nothing - them, the jewels.

Hoping here on earth I'd stay,
stepped I through life from day to day.
And this I knew - could not pretend -
this plank was short. There was an end.

Weight pushed low the outer ledge.
My toes could feel the very edge.
No turning back, what's done is done -
no place to turn - no place to run.

Bodies end with earthly goals
as all life ends - but not the souls.
Emotions quake, as body shakes,
but after death - the soul awakes.

They held truth (though they got old)
those pirate tales that grandpa told -
but futile is a life that's wed,
with both the soul and body dead.

©2009 louis gander - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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Maya Angelou

Caged Bird

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