Did you every lose yourself in a prompt, or have one haunt you? The Friday picture prompt from Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, was one of those for me. I glanced at it on Friday after perusing a nautical dictionary I’d found. At the time, I was in the middle of another project, but that image refused to leave me in peace. Finally, today, I found time to write what had grown into a much longer poem than I originally envisioned. Because there were some unusual words used, I added a little lexicon after the poem.

I fell so in love with this poem as it revealed itself to me, I’m calling this a rough draft. I’m sure to come back and edit it more. If anyone has any suggestions for improvements, please let me know. I’m not crazy about the title either.

By Mike Patrick

Death of a Mermaid, by Violetphantasy

Twas there, last I saw her,
on the rocks of Robert’s shoal,
she was the same as followed us
on voyage through the hole.

We crewed the Rowling’s Princess,
full rigged, a sailor’s dream;
young Parker was first mate,
as fine a man as trod the beam.

And when he stood the helm,
he’d raise his voice in song.
His voice, both deep and mellow,
could reach the great beyond.

I was first to spot her,
lying off the larboard bow,
a tiny bit out of reach
of the ship’s short, on-board brow.

She was lovely as an angel,
though with hair a tint of green,
her bosom’s shape was perfect—
as fine as ere I seen.

Twas only when you saw her tail
that things appeared amiss.
She fell hard for Parker,
but only once she felt his kiss.

Half a day from port, we were,
with Parker on the watch,
when his mermaid acted strange.
She slapped her tail and went hotch

while pointing to the east.
A wall appeared at horizon’s edge,
a rogue wave of giant size
twas bearing down like a mighty wedge.

Parker hailed the crew,
and gave us time to safe belay.
Twas enough for all but one
fine sailor on that tragic day.

Green water swept the decks,
and ripped Parker from the wheel.
From o’er sea, there came a cry
of anguish I still feel.

As overboard our eyes were drawn,
we saw Parker in the sea,
held afloat in loving arms;
twas then we learned that mermaids weep.

She pulled him over to the crew,
And kissed him once upon dead lips,
then trailed aft as we went home
to be amongst the anchored ships.

The tide was low as we came in.
Remnants of that awful wave
crashed on and o’er that jagged reef,
which many a hull had staved.

The mermaid’s only thought was of
the only man she’d kissed
She rode a wave upon those rocks
to disappear in mist.

Each time I now go back to sea,
And hear the wind moan through the sails,
I fear I’ll hear the haunting sound
Of the mermaid’s anguished wails.

Beam: width of a ship at its widest part.
Belay: tie down.
Full rigged: a ship of at least three masts, all square rigged.
Green water: water not broken into spray as it comes over the deck.
Helm: the wheel, used to steer a ship.
Hotch: nervous or fidgety.
Larboard: archaic for left.
Shoal: an area where the sea’s bottom rises near the surface.
Staved: crushed, caved in.
Rogue wave: a sea wave of enormous proportions.
Wheel: helm.

This entry was posted in Death, Iambic, Lost Love, Mixed Meter, Narrative Poem, Real Toads, Rhyming and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to LOVE’S GREAT COST

  1. siggiofmaine says:

    Great post…love it…thanks.Wonderful story…and the vocabulary at the end…very nice addition to understanding the poem.

    ☮ Siggi in Downeast Maine

  2. Funny you mentioned how that image haunted you. It did as well for me. You told a fine story within you poem, loved it. Love and saddness combined. The ocean has a love/death relationship with us with enough marvel to draw us out over the blue. Wonderful poem as always Mike. Have a great Holiday and hope the BBQ is fired up!

    here’s mine :

  3. viv blake says:

    Mike, there’s lots about this poem that I really enjoy, not least the tension induced by your story-telling powers. There are one or two rhythm issues, the most notable and easily correctable being “His voice, both deep and mellow/could easily reach the great beyond.” – if you cut ‘easily’ the meaning is still there, but the metre is maintained. But it has all ll the makings of a keeper of a poem.

    • Mike Patrick says:

      Great suggestion. Correction made. I’m sure there are some more meter clinkers in there, I’ll just have to ferret them out. I made three corrections, in just this one editing trip, and added a final stanza. Definitely a work in progress.

  4. awww I was hoping she would somehow ‘magic’ him alive again and he would stay with her in the sea. I do love a happy ending… LOL
    Another nice write Mike.

    • Mike Patrick says:

      I made the mistake of reading the title of the image: Death of a Mermaid. I think that set my course. I don’t really write this stuff. I’m just the go-between for my muse. It’s possible she has a grudge against mermaids.

  5. Enjoyed this Mike. It’s one of those poems that grabs you at the beginning and keeps you mesmerised all the way through. Well done 🙂

  6. adeeyoyo says:

    Very lovely and sad story, Mike. I think we all secretly wish there were mermaids…

    • Mike Patrick says:

      When I was a boy, I collected the Aquaman comic books. I dreamed of having gills. After I went into the Navy (no gills there either), our old house was torn down and my parents built a new one. Mom threw out all my old comics. They would be worth a fortune today.

  7. brenda w says:

    Mike, I love what you’ve done here. A seafaring tale complete with mermaids and rogue waves is a great way to start my day. Your muse was inspired. Well penned.

  8. I’m in awe of this wonderful tale you spun from the prompt. It has the feel of a ballad, or sea shanty.. I can imagine it sung in a tavern by the sea.

  9. Mike, I love this, as I am a nautical girl at heart. I’ve been sailing since I was a young girl. I had a Sunfish as a teenager. My dream is to live on a 36 footer, if I can convince my husband 🙂


  10. otterblossom says:

    Beautiful and haunting, though like Daydreamertoo, I was hoping he’d end up beneath the waves with her.

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