By Jay Nicholls
PIRATE BLACKTARN MEETS NEPTUNE Pirate Blacktarn, Terror of the Lemon Seas Swung in his hammock, taking his ease. The sea was calm and the day was hazy, The pirate ship’s crew were feeling lazy. “But look,” said Fay, “what’s happening there?” She pointed her finger and the crew turned to stare. All except Blacktarn, whose eyes began to close. His head began to nod and he fell into a doze. “WOW!” cried the crew, “look, look, LOOK!” “What can be happening?” asked Big Bob the Cook. “Don’t make a noise when you know I’m having a nap, I must get my rest,” said Blacktarn with a snap. “But the sea’s gone purple and now it’s turning gold, Oh come on Captain, don’t wait to be told. Look how now the sea’s bright orange It’s so mysterious and strange.” “Oh do stop bothering me,” said Blacktarn, very cross. “But the seabirds have gathered, even the albatross. And the dolphins are dancing and the flying fish are leaping. Oh Captain Blacktarn, do stop sleeping. Hey, do you hear all that wonderful singing? The sea nymphs are chanting and the Mer bells are ringing. See all that spray? It’s the great whales blowing. And look, now watch, how the whole sea is glowing.” Rising from the ocean, a figure started to appear Waving a trident, a huge three-pronged spear. His hair was green as seaweed and he wore a starfish crown And he rode a giant seahorse which danced up and down. “I know who it is,” squawked Tim Parrot, all excited. It’s Neptune, the sea god,” cried Bosun Mick, delighted. And all Blacktarn’s crew roared out a great big cheer. For every creature of the Lemon Sea was here, All waiting to greet Neptune, the sea’s great Lord, All except Blacktarn, who just snored and snored and snored. “I think he’s coming here,” gasped Stowaway Fay For the great god Neptune was riding their way. “Captain Blacktarn, you must be ready to meet him. Neptune is here, quick, wake up and greet him.” “Neptune,” muttered Blacktarn, “don’t be ridiculous. Neptune’s just a fairy tale, rather like St Nicholas.” “No, no, he’s here Captain,” cried Mick in alarm. Come on, wake up now, it’s no time for calm.” But Blacktarn closed his eyes again and sank into a slumber And Neptune gave a grin, for he’d got Blacktarn’s number. He borrowed a big feather from a seagull’s long grey wing And tickled Blacktarn’s nose, till soon he started blinking. “Go away,” huffed the Pirate, pushing the feather aside. Then all of a sudden, he opened his eyes wide. “NNN Neptune! I thought you were a fairy tale but now I see I’m wrong. PPP please don’t prod me with that scary prong.” But Neptune hooked his trident fast on Blacktarn’s braces. “Now you pirate, let’s have no more airs and graces” He told the dangling captain in a very firm way. “This is a poor welcome, I’m very sorry to say. But as I’m in a good mood, you have a chance to please me. For the reason I’m visiting this lovely Lemon Sea Is most of all because I want a special cup of tea. I’ve heard from the mermaids that the finest brew to savour Is made from water with that special lemon flavour. So now if you make me a special cup of tea I might just forgive your lack of courtesy.” “Of course,” stuttered Blacktarn, “if you’ll just put me down.” So Big Bob brewed the tea, all hot and strong and brown. “This is what I’ve been wanting,” said Blacktarn with glee And now I think it’s time we had a tea party.” So they had the best of parties, right there on the ship. There was lemon tea and grog, rock buns and seaweed dip. Stowaway Fay did daring acrobatics And Rakesh the mate did magic tricks. Mick danced a jig and Tim Parrot squawked a solo Which shivered the timbers, above and below. Blacktarn cheered up and played the perfect host Even though the sea horse ate all his toast. And Neptune beamed a lot and enjoyed himself no end “Well I’ve had such a good time, I could happily spend Many days on your good ship but sadly I must go. I have important business in the deep ocean below.” And lifting his trident high, he left them with a sigh. Back into the sea he plunged, waving them goodbye. “Goodbye,” called the seabirds, the dolphins and the whales, “Goodbye,” called the Mermaids, swishing their tails. “Well I’m glad I invited him,” said Blacktarn looking smug. Now it’s time to sail again – oh Neptune’s gone off with my mug!”
Note: The ‘Pirate Blacktarn’ poems were written in the early 1990s but were never submitted anywhere or shown to anyone. By lucky chance they were recently rescued from a floppy disc that had lain in the bottom of a box for almost thirty years. There are twelve poems in the series but no indication as to what order they were written in and the author no longer remembers. However, they seem to work well when read in any order. They all feature the same cast of characters, the eponymous pirate and his crew, including a stowaway and an intelligent parrot. The stories told by the poems are set on a fictional body of water named the Lemon Sea. (Dug up by Rhys Hughes from the bottom of an abandoned treasure chest).
Jay Nicholls was born in England and graduated with a degree in English Literature. She has worked in academia for many years in various student support roles, including counselling and careers. She has written poetry most of her life but has rarely submitted it for publication.
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