It was a day in the month of May
Hoof beats echoed through the dale;
A knight in armor galumphed up the hill:
Ga-lumph, ga-lumph, ga-lumph . . .
Then, “Whoa!” he cried, the steed stood still.
It’s Sir Lancelot, a brave and noble knight,
The champion of Queen Guinevere
Who soon succumbed to her charm--
And that is quite true, for I was there.
But, on with this tale of an illicit love:
The queen who had been Lance’s gentle foe
Turned into a (psst . . . adulteress). And the king?
He knew, but kept on thinking, No, that can’t be so.
Soon, gossip flew left and right. While the King
Was in Scotland--hunting for--whatever for,
Conspiring iron-clad men came charging
To the queen’s chamber and knocked down the door
To take her into custody. Lancelothad flown the coop
But the queen was bound to the stake;
Some cretins yelled, “Okay, let’s light the pyre,”
But Lance rode up and ruined the royal bake.
He slew each and everyone that stood in his way
To save his Guinevere from a terrible fate,
Extinguished the flames that licked at her robe--
Did I mention she was just a trifle overweight?
(Here, in a quantum leap, Merlin has Shakespeare tell the henchmen)
“Marry, knaves, don’t make a lamp of her, because
Her rags and lard will burn a Poland winter, and
If she lives till doomsday, she will burn a week
Longer than the world!”
(Oh, let’s get on with this doggerel!)
He heaved her upon his swift steed
And on they rode filled with remorse;
It’s true, I felt quite sorry for those two,
But mostly--for that poor swayback horse.
The queen lived out her final days
As a cloistered, even saintly nun,
While Lancelot became a repentant recluse--
And Merlin? Heck, he wrote this just for fun.
© 2016 Jerry Kemp
Far outside the marina, fishing
for sea trout, I keep
one eye on my faltering bay boat’s engine,
on the approaching fog bank.
reach for me.
My companions, a dozen
Guinness beer cans, clatter and roll
along the boat’s bottom.
Do I care?
I still have a 12-pack in my cooler.
Today, fishing for sea trout
is a bust;
might as well head in.
The engine sputters once, twice . . .
stalls. Like a “true” mechanic
I scratch my head.
The fog’s ghostly fingers probe,
then creep over the gunnels.
The dense fog bank
carries within it
the echoing silence
of drowned men.
A grinning skull surfaces
from beneath calm waters—
white-boned with empty sockets
where once eyes
had been, but long ago
devoured by fish
It’s crowned with a cap
that bears a swastika insignia.
Now I remember—
the estuary had been visited
by German submarines
during a long-ago war.
Lost to history,
this one had been sunk,
A skeletal torso rises, fleshless
arms with bony fingers
grasp for the gunwale.
Too much beer,
I tell myself, blinking my eyes,
but the specter
heaves itself aboard—
at attention before me.
Courteously, he salutes:
“Guten Tag mein Herr,
is Chesapeake far from hier?
Ich bin thirsty; I want ein beer. . .
Nonchalantly I point at my deck shoes,
“See? no ‘boot,’”
but then say, Oh, what the hell! and hand him
a brew. . . .
Thinking of old sea stories, souls
of men lost at sea—
once more I try to restart
the engine. “Drunken fool,”
says the specter in English,
sounding a bit like me,
and points at the fuel reserve tank.
(May have been me. Duhh!!)
I switch over to reserve--
The engine catches at once.
Leaving my phantom to the fog,
I glide toward the bustling marina.
I don’t know what I saw—I just don’t know,
but I know for certain:
‘Guinness Dark’ is more than I can handle.