QUESTION: Did you read in the Navy?
ANSWER: "Yes. Everybody on a ship reads, whether it’s comic books, or Westerns, or the Bible, or whatever. They always read a lot. I was reading Moby Dick, which sounds terribly precious, but I thought if you can’t read Moby Dick in the roaring forties, you’ll never read Moby Dick. So I brought it along. I also read Ulysses on the same trip. I seem to have imprinted the ocean in a very strong way because I end up with all these marine images that just seem so readily at hand for me." --- US writer Robert Stone, author of DOG SOLDIERS.
Those were the days when a sea voyage from Panama to Japan took 29 days and a box of books will still not be enough, even though the radio will not keep the operator busy, with little traffic.
Sometimes a friend on another ship going from Vancouver to Australia with daily contact, will help pass the day. The lonely sea and sky...
In rough wx, tying the chair around the radio equipment would be the only way to send a Morse message, with a loose key moving around.
Ulysses...every June in our town the Celtic Club, with the only black Guyanese member,[to add colour to the party as the Irish would say], would visit a 100 year old tourist mining town and celebrate Bloomsday with JJ poems and songs.
My poem this year was 'The Homesick Pirate', while Roselyn from Dublin played my Mom.
The Homesick Pirate
There was a homesick pirate,
His name was Danny Dunn,
Last night in bed he made a wish –
He thought it would be fun
To hop aboard a pirate ship
Instead of going to school.
I don’t know why, I guess he thought
It would be kind of cool.
But now he’s going to and fro
Across the Irish Sea
When all he wants is to go home
And settle down to tea.
They hoist the Jolly Roger
And they drink their jugs of rum,
But it isn’t quite as Danny thought:
He’s crying for his mum.
He didn’t know they’re dirty
And he didn’t know they stank
And the pirates keep on threatening
To make him walk the plank.
There’s droppings in the porridge
And no mattress on the bunks;
There’s lice in Blackbeard’s beard
And there’s sand in Danny’s trunks.
Everyone has scurvy
And they scowl with snaggled teeth;
There’s beetles on the top deck
And the rats live underneath.
So next time that you make a wish
Heed what I say, it’s true:
Young Danny hates the pirate life
And so, I think, will you.
[by Joshua Seigal]