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Jarlath McDonagh

Ship of Fools

 

A ship of fools crosses the sea.

The water is fat and breathing,

And they throw sticks at it, demented.

Merry and masked the crew howl

Cupping water that collects on-deck.

They’re mad, steering the eyeless ship-

tis’ the time’s plague when madmen lead the blind.

 

The sorry cargo, nose-up, wobbles and screams-

The music that is made if god dropped the plectrum.

It’s a tango of twangs and howling,

The captain sighs and claps his hands

When a distant port breaks the clouds.

 

Picking up squint-eyed little mice

And letting their imagination unravel

Down the growing watery slope,

The crew delight in slicing the water.

 

A century before them the lepers were the same,

Sweeping slates and going through the motions-

Snapping back time like a deck of cards,

The jokers taken out for later games.

They leapt and fell apart on horizons

And rowed boats too.

 

These rosy-cheeked maniacs, though,

Curdle in their isolation-

Find delight in solidifying.

A ship for floating and oars for stigma,

They drop the mice,

And there’s nothing in the scuttling

And nothing we can do to break them.

 

 

 

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