By Jay Nicholls
PIRATE BLACKTARN FIGHTS POLLUTION Pirate Blacktarn, Terror of the Lemon Seas Stopped eating his dinner of green, mushy peas. “I’m tired of this, I want some fish,” He complained to the cook, waving his dish. “There aren’t any fish,” said Big Bob the Cook, “Just go up on deck and take a good look.” The crew dangled their nets far over the side, But no fish came to bite and the hungry group sighed. “Why is the sea the colour of murk?” “Well if you ask me, it’s pollution at work,” Said Bosun Mick, who knew about things. He pointed to a bird with sticky black wings. “There’s some nasty poison dumped in the sea, Killing all the fish and it could kill you and me. The Lemon Seas are in a gruesome mess, I don’t know what we can do unless…” “What?” asked Blacktarn, thinking of his dinner. “Unless we can catch the no-good sinner Who’s dropping the poison and spoiling the water And causing all this harm and slaughter.” “Er, that’s a bit much,” muttered Blacktarn in fear. “Yes, yes,” yelled the crew, “what a great idea.” So away they sailed, with a brisk wind behind them, Hunting for polluters and all set to find them. They hadn’t sailed far when they saw dark smoke And sniffed a whiff that made them choke. Then a dirty old ship came close into view With a mean and moody and miserable crew. Stacked on the deck stood barrels of gunge All lined in a row and ready for the plunge Into the sad Lemon Sea, all grimy and greasy. But Pirate Blacktarn was feeling uneasy. “That ship’s got guns,” he said as he stared. “Come on Captain, we’re not scared,” His crew all called, “STOP YOUR POLLUTION, You’ll have to find a better solution.” “STOP STOP STOP STOP!” BANG! Went the dirty ship’s guns in reply, BANG! BANG! And fiery flames shot high. Blacktarn quavered, “I think we’d better go.” “No,” said Stowaway Fay, “no, no, no.” “No,” said the crew, “are you a wimp or what?” “A wimp, me? Nonsense of course not. But what shall we do? You tell me that.” “Perhaps it’s time we had a little chat,” Said Parrot Tim and away he flew. “What on earth is he going to do?” Wondered Bosun Mick as he flew ever higher, Weaving and swerving to avoid the gunfire. Tim reached the dirty ship and perched on the mainstay. “I think you’d better listen to what I have to say Or a horrible harm might come your way. You must take those barrels of poison away.” The dirty crew laughed, “Let’s shoot that bird, In case it thinks we haven’t heard.” “Your last chance,” said Tim with a warning squawk. “Huh,” jeered the crew, “this is just parrot talk.” “Right,” said Tim and he began to sing. Now a parrot song is not a nice thing. The dirty crew groaned and covered their ears. “Shoot this parrot, it’s reducing us to tears.” But as he sang, the sea seemed to bubble. The dirty crew were worried, “Is this trouble?” For a monstrous shadow loomed beneath the waves. “Get ready,” called Tim, “for your grisly graves.” Down in the deeps a strange thing stirred. Slowly, slowly, to the surface it whirred, And a hideous head burst above the seas. The dirty crew trembled, weak at the knees. They saw a massive catfish, bigger than the ship, All whiskers and fins, from tail to tip. All scaly and bumpy And ugly and lumpy And grimy and grumpy. Its big fat lips sucked like a vacuum. “Help,” cried the crew, “is this our doom?” For the mighty catfish scavenges the seas And eats all the dirt to clear the water of disease. It opened its great big mouth very wide And the dirty crew screamed, all terrified. WHOOSH! SLURP! The crew vanished inside The monster’s mouth. “Ow, help!” they cried As they slithered down its throat. But the great fish swallowed them and their boat, Then began to suck all the sludge from the water, Till the filth was gone from every quarter. His big belly grew and swelled until The mighty catfish had chomped its fill. Then with a gentle belch and a sigh And a slow, slow wink of his muddy brown eye He started to sink back down to the seabed To digest his dinner and rest his head. And there he would stay until trouble arose But he is there to this day, as Tim Parrot knows, To make sure the Lemon Seas are clean and clear And poison and dirt never reappear. “Wow!” said Blacktarn, most amazed. “Well done Tim,” the crew all praised. “What luck that we had a catfish to help us And mop up pollution before it got worse.” “Yes, poisonous dirt gets dumped every day And in other seas there’s nothing to clean it away,” Said Rakesh the mate, looking very upset. “Soon all the oceans will be black as jet.” “Well at least we can sail on our clean Lemon Sea And I needn’t eat one more green mushy pea, Come, let’s get sailing,” said Blacktarn joyfully.
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.