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THE DREAM, Tony Radford
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THE DREAM, Tony Radford.

Life at sea is the place for me -
with a crew at my command,
in quarters small for a man that's tall -
and food that's less than grand.

Such peace I've found from the mellow sound
a sailing ship can make
as the ocean spanks her wooden planks
with the waves we overtake.

To hear her speak with groans and creaks
as I write by candlelight -
a final slog through the captain's log
as I bed down for the night.

I often dream when all's serene -
on nights the sea is still,
when the summer fare of humid air
gives way to autumn's chill.

A dream's appeal - it begins so real,
then ends without a trace,
but while inside, I can take a ride
to another time and place.
In one, I've had - I'm just a lad
who spends his time on land,
a land of lights, of sounds and sights
I just don't understand.

But then -
My slumber quelled - a piercing bell
rang out from up on deck,
I quickly rose and grabbed my clothes -
I thought I'd better check.

The cabin boy yelled "Ship ahoy!"
and pointed out to sea,
so I grabbed the ropes and climbed in hopes -
a friendly ship she'd be.

I made the nest and peered due west
to confirm the message sent,
my greatest fear - a ship so near
might harbor ill-intent.

Through my glass - atop her mast,
a flag with bones and skull
and open doors revealing bores
of cannons lined her hull.

Her crew on board was waving swords,
their eyes shown fires of greed,
it seemed to me, if we didn't flee -
an assault was guaranteed.

We had to run, we were way outgunned -
we could never match their might
and in our hold were kegs of gold
to fund our country's fight.

The line was drawn, the race was on -
though a Clipper's known for speed,
the haul we bore from our time ashore
would slow us down indeed.

I prayed a squall would save us all,
but the winds that day were tame,
though we made our break, they'd overtake
and try to lay their claim.

The pirates now, off our starboard bow -
so close I could smell their breath,
and while the horde would attempt to board,
we'd fight them to the death.

Their cannons' blast could end us fast,
but they planned to take us whole -
their cause for war - to capture stores,
to sink was not their goal.

They'd waste no time - the hooks and lines
would fly from deck to deck,
and one-on-one with blade and gun,
we'd keep the scum in check.

I heard the cries as sailors died
and I saw the sea turn red
while both my crew and pirates too,
ensured the sharks were fed.

It was eye-to-eye and my gun was dry
so I used my sword to kill,
I relieved some dregs of their arms and legs -
the pirate-blood would spill.

I made a dash as a muzzle flash
went off just feet away,
though I felt the heat, I'd not retreat -
'cause a captain leads the way.

My shoulder bled from the musket lead
that barely grazed my skin
and the shooter knew when I ran him through -
his life was at an end.

My saber's blade was custom made
by the best in Williamsburg,
with an edge so sharp, an angel's harp
was likely all he heard.

As battle raged, the crew engaged
'til all from deck to keel
had either killed, or themselves been drilled
with a piece of lead or steel.

Hand-to-hand - a fight so grand,
my heart was filled with pride,
they stood with me so valiantly
and bravely fought - some died.

We stood outmanned when the clash began -
they had us three to one,
but better skilled, we maimed and killed
until the fight was done.

The rats withdrew - the remaining few
had lost the will to fight,
their ship was burned from bow to stern -
her flames lit up the night.

A wake was held for ours that fell -
their bodies cast to sea,
we'd toast with rye and tearful eye -
those men were dear to me.

The hour was late and my body ached
from a battle so extreme,
so I laid my head when my boots were shed
and I slipped into a dream.

Then -
A voice would sound from all around -
like words fired from a gun,
as if the Gods were all at odds
with something I had done.

"Out of bed, you sleepyhead!" -
came a voice so loud and bold.

"It's time for school, you know the rules -
you're almost ten years old!"
I rubbed my eyes and I realized
that I wasn't out at sea -
that the whole ordeal wasn't even real
and the captain wasn't me.

I looked around and all I found
in that messy room of mine,
not the polished sword that I had on board -
but a toy one made of pine.

No ship to tend, no foe to fend,
no battles raged at sea,
my only fame - from the pirates game
I played on PS-3.

My day at school was so un-cool -
I tried my best to blend,
another day of boring play
I thought would never end.

I was so depressed when I got undressed
and I put myself to bed,
the fantasy of life at sea
was playing in my head.

As I tried to sleep, I could feel the seep
of damp and salty air
and the gentle sway of a ship's ballet -
but I knew I wasn't there.

The sounds and feel - they seemed so real
that I opened both my eyes,
I was almost floored, I was back on board
in my space of modest size.

I stroked the skin of my stubbled chin
and searched my shoulder blade,
I'd not get far 'till I felt the scar
that a pirate's pistol made.

It felt so good to feel the wood -
so smooth beneath my feet,
though I dreamed I was gone, I was there all along,
in my quarters fast asleep.

I could hear the crew, so I called for brew -
some joe to clear my head,
then I grabbed a quill for some thoughts to spill
in the book beside my bed.

"I feel relieved that as I believed -
I'm a man who sails the sea,
but even so, I'd like to know -
what is a PS-3?"

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VILLAGE OF TWO BRIDGES, Marisa Torre