"The drama's done. Why then does any one step forth? Because one did survive the wreck." Herman Melville, Moby Dick

An Elderly Sailor's Saga
(after the style of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner")

As Coleridge spoke in his Rime
A thoughtless sailor slew
An albatross: a lucky bird
Which brought a shunning from the herd
Of seamen in his crew

Condemned to wander for his crime
Until his story sold
Unlike the brave Odysseus
He sailed a vessel odious
To get back to the fold

To aid him on his tortured climb
His shipmates hung a gift:
Some dead bird meat around his neck
To signify a human wreck
Upon fate’s waves adrift

He sweltered in a humid clime
And froze on glacier ice
He starved for food; he dreamed of drink
Which only brought more time to think
Of penance and its price

He longed to live beyond his time
And come back from the dead
To sing strange songs of sad suspense
And lecture laughing lessons dense
With wisdom in his head

Instead he found his tale a mime
Of gestures proud and brash
Somewhere between his brain and mouth
His east and west went north to south
And left him talking trash

A solipsistic siren slime
Consumed him as he aged
To each accosted audience
He only reeked of prurience
Which drove them off enraged

The mariner had thoughts sublime
But those he could not tell
For one look at his rancid face
So terrified the human race
That none would stay to smell

His narrative earned not one dime
Just pennies in his jar
To fund his tedium and toil
He offered truth and got recoil
Thrown at him from afar

A better soul still in its prime
Could offer true remorse
But ugly innocence had left
His barren heart in pieces cleft
Which swayed him from his course

He lived, therefore, in dirt and grime
To beg a bath or meal
And wandered searching for the day
When from an errant mind some stray
Attention he could steal

Much like the acid, greenish lime
A bitter fruit he chewed
That kept the scurvy from his bones
But which, like blades of sharpened stones,
His soul’s own structure hewed

Thus never would the fragrant thyme
Dispel his saga’s stench
The lousy story of his life
Would make itself his only wife:
A wretched wanton wench

Although he worked with reasoned rhyme
And syllables that matched
No one would see through blinded eyes
Or hear with ears deaf to the cries
Of endings never hatched

And so this poet’s paradigm
Produced no planned release
But left him groping after sounds
With which sad Reason’s grace surrounds
A longing after peace

The author and the actor, I'm
The flotsam in this fray
Escaped alone to speak in vain
Of Ahab’s greatest love and pain
That drowned him one fine day

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright © 2005