Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Nonfiction
In the year 2008, a bold band of brave and hardy souls set sail on a journey born of hope and a quest for freedom and glory. These seafaring poets and artists…set out to make their mark upon the pirate genre and do what they could to inspire their readers with tales of the legends and legacies of buccaneers, privateers, mermaids, sirens, and a life at sea….
Thus begins this anthology of original poetry interspersed with black-and-white illustrations by Kenneth King and Robert L. Berry, Jr. Thirty-nine poems make up this collection, and as the opening promises, the reader meets pirates, sirens, and seamen.
One delight is that the participants in this book include short biographies before the treasures unfold, which allows us a brief insight into who these people are. They come from various backgrounds and places, and each has had life adventures that impact their writing. Of course, being pirates all, they also have a variety of monikers, such as The Right Reverend One Eye or Rumba Rue. All the poems in this collection demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the sea and piracy.
As I read these poems, I recalled a discussion in my high school English class many years ago. A student teacher attempted to tell us what the poet meant when he wrote the verse. I, and others, disagreed, for poetry is personal and each reader/listener interprets a poem’s meaning for herself. What strikes a chord in one person may not do so in another. That is the joy and thrill of reading poetry. Not all the poems in this collection resonated with me, but all must be judged on their own merits, and what you like may not be what I like.
When I closed the cover on Raising Black Flags, I had four personal favorites and of these, two were written by Pamala A. Williams and two by Stephen Sanders. Pamala, also known as Diamond, is an actress and Renaissance performer from Oklahoma. Steve, aka Blackbead, has written poetry since he was a child. Below you will find Pamala’s “Remembrance,” and when you peruse this book, be sure to read “The Old Sea Captain,” whose imagery and tale will bring a tear to even the most stalwart pirate’s eyes. Steve’s “God Take the King!” is also included here, but “The Captain’s Coat” spins the tale of a pirate captain and his search for prizes.
Currently, this band of pirates is working on another anthology that will include poems, short stories, and artwork. Slated for release in late 2009, if you’d like to join the crew of Adventure and make your mark in the realm of pirate lore, contact Blackbead. If Raising Black Flags is any indication, this new edition will be as much of a treasure as this anthology is.
Blackbead’s Treasure Chest
Review copyrighted © 2009 Cindy Vallar
Ye ask me why I sail the seas beneath a
flag stained black,
Why I risk both life and limb and take the pirate tack?
The answer is an easy one, a song I love to sing,
After years of his bloody taxes, I’ve come to hate the king!
I bear the marks upon me back of
scratches from his cat:
Too many times I’ve come up short when ’is Majesty passed the hat.
Between his taxes and me debts I were stretched as thin as a blade
And it doesn’t change me hate one bit that this bed is one I made.
For a king sits on the throne by grace
to lift his subjects up
And not to snatch the bread and meat of which their children sup.
I’d’ve paid me taxes if I could, I swear to this on High,
But I fear I’m weak, because instead, I heeded me family’s cry.
Now taxes are a necessary thing, of
that I be quite sure,
If a governed land we want to have these levies we must endure.
But never get behind, me friends, pay all your taxes now
For paying but the portion you can the damned King will not allow.
And once he’s got his hooks in ye, yer
life is a living hell,
Ye canna’ rest a moment ’cause he comes to where ye dwell.
At pike point he collects your pay before it can be spent
On niceties like milk or shoes or even to pay the rent.
Me youngest he died coughin’ after a
winter without a coat,
Me eldest drowned in a summer storm workin’ on a fishin’ boat,
Me daughter traded her childhood for pennies to help our plight,
Until one cold, dark evenin’, when we lost her to the night.
Me wife, me darlin’ Maggie, could’na
stand to live like this,
So she drank a dram of poison and waited for Death’s cold kiss.
But the poison didn’t kill her; it simply stole her sight,
And lost in all this darkness she became a Bedlamite.
Now all me stanchions are overboard, me
children, me lovely wife,
So I spends me time in the sweet trade, I live the pirate life.
No more will I pay me taxes with coins a coppery-red,
The only tax I’ll pay the king is shot that’s made of lead.
But don’t ye waste a tear, shipmates,
feelin’ sorry for the likes of me,
For, in truth, I’ve come to love this life a’ sailin’ on the sea.
There’s run, there’s women, there’s adventure, and sometimes even gold,
And maybe me own ship someday if I live to be that old.
And don’t forget, me hearties, death is
everywhere at sea.
The life of a seadog is a dodgy one, as I’m sure you’ll all agree,
And someday I’ll find me doorway among these many harms
And go to spend eternity in me lovin’ family’s arms.
Copyright ©2008 Stephen Sanders
I sit upon the gunwale
At the twilight of the day
And think about my life that was
And about my life that may
’Twas glorious, the love I had
And grieved when it was lost
And as the storm of life did blow
The ship of me was lost
I think about him often
When work and time allow
A simple scent, a memory
I grieve still, even now
But here upon this ship of wood
I work to reclaim my life
My mates are friends, like family
They mellow out my strife
The lookout says to look ahead
The boson says set sail
The captain says I’m not alone
As the winds begin to wail
For, though we be a mighty crew
We each have sorrows of past
And everything must come to an end
For only the sea will last
Copyright ©2008 Pamala A. Williams
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